October 22, 2013

New York, Delaware oppose Maine plan to loosen smog rules

The resistance could make it hard to get the EPA to ease what the state views as obstacles to economic growth.

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

Today's poll: Anti-smog rules

Should Maine loosen its anti-smog regulations?

Yes

No

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click image to enlarge

A truck loaded with logs enters a paper mill in Jay in 2005. The paper industry backs Maine’s proposal to ease anti-smog rules, saying it will remove a barrier to major investments in mills. Wood pellet manufacturers also have expressed support.

2005 File Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Sappi paper mill in Westbrook

File photo by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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A TOP PRIORITY FOR MAINE

Cone stood by his department’s models and estimates, and said that in conversations with his counterparts in the region, several said Maine’s move might actually help encourage other states to join the Ozone Transport Region.

“A lot of states are kind of scared to join ... but might not be if there was this opportunity for them to recognize that there is flexibility for some of its provisions, and that everything isn’t going to be crammed down their throat,” he said.

Saviello said he takes a dim view of other member states’ complaints, given that many do not have air control regulations as strict as Maine’s.

“If those states had as restrictive air requirements as Maine does, maybe they wouldn’t have these problems,” he said. “They say we should ‘keep in the brotherhood,’ but while we do that, this state is dying.” Documents reviewed by the Press Herald through a public records request show the changes were made a top priority in the DEP Air Bureau’s 2013 work plan, after a company that was considering creating a wood pellet facility in Woodland expressed concerns about the cost of offsets it would have to buy for volatile organic compounds. Once the rules were proposed, paper companies appear to have taken a close interest.

When word came July 20 that the proposal had passed an important administrative hurdle at the EPA, Cone let paper industry lobbyist Dixon Pike of Pierce Atwood know within hours. The rule change itself had been inconspicuously posted on the department’s website, and environmental groups and the general public didn’t learn of its existence until it was reported in the Press Herald on July 29.

The records also show that in August, DEP officials sought to find out if Maine ozone emissions adversely affect downwind neighbors in Canada, and produced evidence that they do not.

Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:

cwoodard@pressherald.com

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Today's poll: Anti-smog rules

Should Maine loosen its anti-smog regulations?

Yes

No

View Results