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Public air quality meeting set for Aug 21

DEQ will host two meetings this month
by ANDREW CREASEY, Herald and News 8/4/12

The public will have a chance to comment at an Aug. 21 meeting on a new air quality attainment plan that will tighten emissions restrictions on large industry and require new residential buildings to install clean-burning fireplaces.

The Department of Environmental Quality plans to reduce the amount of the fine particulate PM 2.5. It also will pursue funds to replace old wood-burning stoves with clean-burning fireplaces.

Non-attainment designation

Klamath Falls was designated as non-attainment for PM 2.5 in 2009 and the current plan, developed by DEQ, Klamath County Commissioners and the Air Quality Advisory Committee, aims to bring the area back into attainment by 2014, as required by the Clean Air Act.

Beyond the health benefits of clean air — PM 2.5 can cause heart and respiratory problems — by reaching attainment, the area also will be free of onerous restrictions that inhibit community leader’s abilities to attract major industries to Klamath Falls.

“It’s tough now for an industry to come into Klamath Falls. If they have any 2.5 emissions, they have to put in the best technology, regardless of cost, to control their emissions,” said Larry Calkin, air quality specialist with DEQ. “If they don’t meet the requirements, they can’t come to the area.”

The new attainment plan will tighten restrictions on existing industry and increase the cost necessary for compliance.

The proposed rule could affect Jeld-Wen, Collins Products and Columbia Forest Products , as well as a potential biomass plants developed by Iberdrola, according to DEQ documents.

Compliance with the proposed rule that would limit industrial boiler emissions to 20 percent opacity will cost between $70,000 and $130,000 per year.

Reducing fugitive emissions, or particulates that escape from windows, doors, storage piles and roadways, to meet the mandates of the attainment plan will cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Maintaining the operations rules to ensure proper operation of pollution control equipment could cost between $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the equipment.

But at Collins Products, not only do they already meet standards for opacity and have excess PM 2.5 credits they can sell, they feel that DEQ is focusing on the wrong sector by increasing requirements on industry, said Collins Environmental Manager Jess Brown.

“ DEQ has industry as a regulated sector that they can apply pressure to, as opposed to the residency ,” Brown said. “ But we’re not the problem, the problem is wood stoves.”

The proposed plan would attempt to offset these costs by allowing companies to finance wood stove removal. Facilities would be able to increase their emissions by one ton for every one ton of particulate reduced through wood stove removal.

If the area doesn’t reach attainment by 2014, industries will face heavier restrictions and the use of wood-burning stoves in the winter will be banned, Calkin said.

DEQ estimated that residents who burned three cords of wood and shifted to using natural gas during the heating season could spend up to $ 41.53 each month on additional costs.

“If the ordinance is complied with, the area should reach attainment by 2014,” Calkin said. “It’s all up to the county and the residents. Compliance is really key to this.”

“ It basically takes the community to get behind this. Lets keep our finger crossed that we can get here,” said Jeff Ball, who chaired the Air Quality Advisory Committee. “ The repercussions are on industry if we are not successful.”




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