The Illinois Pollution Control Board has voted down Gov. Pat Quinn's emergency petcoke regulations, which the governor released earlier this month.
The decision means the proposed rules for the powdery, thick byproduct of oil refining will have to go through the longer, formal rule-making process. Read more about the governor's emergency administrative rules for the handling of petroleum coke, or petcoke, in our full report on the proposal.
UPDATE 1 (6:07 p.m.): The Natural Resources Defense Council released the following in response to the 4-0 vote by the Illinois Pollution Control Board:
Large and growing piles of petcoke on Chicago’s Southeast Side have blanketed communities, and have aggravated health problems and coated homes, schools and public parks with dangerous particulate pollution. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has received permit applications from businesses hoping to store petcoke in other communities in the state.
The following are statements from community, environmental and public health groups in response to Thursday’s decision by the Pollution Control Board:
“The Pollution Control Board’s decision notes that the piles near our communities pose no immediate health risk. The Southeast Environmental Task Force disagrees. Breathing in the dust from these piles in air that is already poor quality can only have a contributing impact on respiratory distress. Maybe we need to offer a tour of the petcoke storage locations to Pollution Control Board members so they can see for themselves.”— Tom Shepherd, vice-president, Southeast Environmental Task Force.
“Dust from petcoke and from coal piles all over the state are negatively affecting the health of Illinois residents. Action, whether through the legislature or a rule making, needs to occur as soon as possible to protect the people of Illinois. The rules and ordinances proposed in Chicago aren't enough to deal with this statewide public health emergency.”– Jennifer Walling, executive director, Illinois Environmental Council
“The Board’s decision fails to recognize the real and growing threat to public health and welfare from petcoke and coal storage. The Illinois EPA has said they will not approve any pending permit applications until it has been shown that petcoke does not cause adverse environmental impacts. Today’s decision does not answer that question and should not open the door to any additional permits.” – Jennifer Cassel, attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center
“Anyone who has seen the dust storm photos or tasted the air next to the piles on the Chicago’s Southeast Side knows that petcoke in our neighborhoods is indeed an emergency. The Pollution Control Board’s decision was disappointing; but so were the proposed regulations put forward by the Quinn Administration that did not reflect the Governor’s forceful statements about the emergency on Chicago’s Southeast Side. Both reflected a failure to recognize the imminent danger of particulate matter sweeping over Illinois communities. Now that the Administration is sent back to the drawing board, we hope the regulations will match the Governor’s call for action.” – Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
"We are extremely disappointed that the Board failed to take immediate action to protect people with lung disease who, in some cases, live mere feet from sites of uncovered piles of pet coke several stories high. Those piles must be enclosed or removed as soon as possible to stop the black dust clouds from blowing off them and into people's homes and lungs." –Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental programs at Respiratory Health Association