State Department of Ecology proposes changes to air emissions rule

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The Washington Department of Ecology is proposing air emission rule changes that the department says would better protect public health and ensure air quality consistently meets federal Clean Air Act standards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency directed Washington and 35 other states to modify their air pollution rules so that they no longer exempt facility emissions during periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction. The change affects emissions at facilities such as pulp and paper mills, cement kilns, aluminum smelters, and businesses with extremely large generators like data centers.

If adopted, the changes would require that plumes of emissions from facilities during startup, shutdown, and malfunction not be more than 40 percent opaque. Opacity is a standard used worldwide to evaluate air pollution: Fine particle pollution, which can lead to serious health problems, is more opaque and visible to the naked eye as pollution levels increase.

The agency is now seeking public comments on the proposed changes through March 20.

Review documents

Public meeting

  • 10 a.m., March 13
  • Attend online or in person: Washington Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive SE, Lacey

Submit comments by March 20

  • Submit comments online
  • Mail to Elena Guilfoil, Department of Ecology, Air Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600

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