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Pima County taking public comment on new rules for Tucson Electric Power station

The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality is opening a 35-day public comment period today on proposed changes to Tucson Electric Power's emissions permit for their generating station on the South Side.

The change applies only to one of the unit's at the generating station on East Irvington Road. This particular part of the station is not equipped with a device to control Nitrogen Oxide emissions. 

Nitrogen Oxide is not a greenhouse gas but has been linked to acid rain.

The federal government sets clean-air standards and has deputized the states' environmental quality departments to enforce them. In Arizona the process starts at the county level because counties are part of state government. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will also gather public comments during the process. 

The federal "Regional Haze Rule" puts the states in charge of finding local emission sources that should be cleaned up to improve air quality and the state has identified TEP's generating station as one of those sources. The electric utility has agreed to make what the law calls "reasonable changes." Tucson qualifies for special considerations because it is close to natural parks and wilderness areas. 

Pima County has what's called a "site implementation plan" for the TEP plant and changes to that plan would be required. So TEP is looking for a permit and the county must sign off on the plan changes. Both are up for public review.

Only people who submit public comments are eligible to appeal an eventual decision and the comments should be limited to relevant state law and county ordinances.

The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality will host an informational open house on March 28 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Abrams Public Health Center, at 3950 S. Country Club Road, 3rd Floor, Room 3102. 

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All in-person attendees are encouraged to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

A hour-long virtual public hearing to obtain verbal public comments will be held via WebEx on April 15 starting at  5:00 p.m.  Access to the hearing and all of the documents associated with this permit revision are available on the PDEQ Public Notice webpage.  If requested, PDEQ can email the proposed revisions.

Written comments will be accepted by PDEQ during the official Public Comment Period, which begins March 14 and ends on April 18 at 5:00 p.m. 

Any interested person may submit written comments on the proposed permit revision during the public comment period.

Anyone providing written comments must include their name, mailing address and signature, plus their agent or attorney if applicable. The county is asking comments to clearly state the person's position.

Pima County will accept no comments after 5 p.m., on April 18. 

Comments should be submitted to:

Rupesh Patel, Air Program Manager
Pima County Department of Environmental Quality33 N Stone Avenue, Suite 700Tucson, AZ 85701

To e-mail comments, go to: Air.permits@pima.gov or to submit comments on line, click on the public comment form,

All documents submitted by the applicant are part of what is known as "the administrative record" and can be viewed between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, 33 N Stone Ave. Most documents in the administrative record are available on-line at PDEQ’s website.

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For more information, contact Natalie Shepp at 520-724-6885 or natalie.shepp@pima.gov.

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Pima County Department of Environmental Quality

Tucson Electric Power's generating station on the South Side is up for a new permit to emit Nitrogen Oxide and the Pima County is asking for public comment.