Environmental Groups Win EPA’s Objection to U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson’s Air Pollution Permit

Environmental Protection Agency sides with Environmental Integrity Project, PennFuture, Clean Air Council and objects to U.S Steel Edgar Thomson’s Title V permit as it was not in compliance with the Clean Air Act

PITTSBURGH, PA – In another step to help protect Mon Valley residents from harmful air pollutants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has again sided with environmental groups by issuing an order objecting to an air quality permit issued by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) to U.S. Steel on the basis that it was not in compliance with the Clean Air Act. This time, the EPA objected to the permit issued to U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson facility by ACHD in August 2023.

In September 2023, environmental groups submitted a petition to EPA requesting it object to the Title V air quality permit issued to U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson by ACHD. In the petition, environmental groups argued that the Title V permit did not include monitoring and testing requirements sufficient to assure compliance with multiple air quality emissions limitations for multiple emissions sources, and improperly eliminated certain emissions limitations.

On February 7, 2024, EPA issued an order granting all of the petitioners’ claims and objecting to the Edgar Thomson Title V permit on those grounds. In its order, EPA requires ACHD to revise the permit and/or permit record in accordance with its decision.

This marks the second occasion in recent months that environmental groups have successfully petitioned EPA to object to deficient Title V permits issued by ACHD to U.S. Steel facilities in the Mon Valley. In October, EPA issued a similar order granting the majority of petitioners’ claims relating to insufficient monitoring and testing requirements and objecting to the U.S. Steel Clairton Coke Works’ Title V permit issued by ACHD.

The U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Plant is an iron and steel making facility with a history of noncompliance with air pollution regulations and a major source of air pollution in Allegheny County.  Pollutants of concern emitted by the facility include particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and hazardous air pollutants, among others.

“We are thrilled EPA ordered the Health Department to make all 10 changes we requested so that this massive polluter no longer has a permit full of loopholes,” said Lisa Hallowell, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. “The permit now must be revised to require monitoring to assure compliance with permit limits, which will benefit public health and the environment throughout the Mon Valley.”

“Ensuring that industry polluters comply with permit limits is necessary to protect Allegheny County residents from harmful air pollution,” said Angela Kilbert, Senior Attorney for PennFuture.  “EPA’s order directs ACHD to ensure that this Title V permit has air quality monitoring and testing requirements sufficient to assure U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson operates in compliance with its emissions limits.”

“Mon Valley residents shouldn’t have to put up with some of the worst air in the country,” said Alex Bomstein, Clean Air Council Legal Director. “Through air quality monitoring and testing requirements, EPA’s orders will help to ensure that the facility operates within the law, which is key to protecting residents from harmful pollution.”

Clean Air Council is an environmental health advocacy organization fighting for everyone’s right to a healthy environment. Protecting people’s health from the harmful impacts of pollution has always been the Council’s primary goal.

Environmental Integrity Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and strengthening policy to protect public health and the environment.

PennFuture is a member-supported, statewide environmental advocacy nonprofit and watchdog fighting against potential threats to PA’s clean air, pure water, and healthy climate. Since 1998, PennFuture has combined legislative advocacy and legal enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels, educational outreach, and civic engagement support for just and equitable environmental outcomes that improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.

Media contact:
Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project (443) 510-2574 or tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org