Testimony In Support of LD 71, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 171: Control of Petroleum Storage Facilities, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection.
Senator Brenner, Representative Gramlich, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, my name is Todd Martin. I am the Director of NRCM Rising at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. NRCM is Maine’s leading environmental advocacy organization with more than 25,000 members and supporters. I am testifying today in support of LD 71, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 171: Control of Petroleum Storage Facilities, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection.
This bill is the result of several years of work by this Committee, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Board of Environmental Protection, and the citizens of the communities who live in close proximity to these above-ground petroleum storage tanks, many whom are here today. This bill is critical to the health and safety of Mainers across the state as these above-ground petroleum storage tanks are located in South Portland, Bucksport, Hampden, and Searsport.
As the so-called tailpipe state of the nation, Maine bears the burden of unhealthy air pollution generated in states to our south and west. According to the Maine Centers for Disease Control, more than 18,000 children under the age of 18 and more than 140,000 adults in Maine have asthma.1 We have no control over air pollution in other states. What we can control is air pollution that originates within our borders.
There are 120 licensed above-ground petroleum storage tanks in South Portland alone, a high density in an already densely populated city of about 27,000 residents. Collectively, the Maine DEP permits those 120 tanks to emit 630 tons of volatile organic compounds and 104 tons of hazardous air pollutants per year. One of those VOCs, Benzene, is classified as a Group A known carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).2 The tanks in South Portland are sited in close proximity to Kaler Elementary School, South Portland High School, Children’s Time daycare center, and the Betsy Ross House senior living community. In Searsport, the tanks at Mack Point are located within a mile and a half of Searsport public schools as well as Bayview Manor, an assisted living facility. In Bucksport, the tanks are located about a mile and a half from Bucksport Senior High School and only half a mile to Jed Prouty Assisted Living Facility. In Hampden, the tanks are located just down river from downtown Bangor and just across the river from residential areas in Brewer. Air pollution disproportionately affects our children and our elderly. It is critical to minimize their exposure to VOC and HAP air emissions. LD 71 will help accomplish that.
To ensure the greatest public health benefit from these revisions to chapter 171, NRCM encourages the Committee to ensure the final bill maintains the Department’s recommendation for mandated fence line monitoring, paid for by the regulated entity, to ensure the public know which VOCs and HAPs are being emitted by which facilities, how often, and at what levels to help determine their prevalence in nearby residential neighborhoods. Fence line monitoring is a proven, low-cost solution and is particularly useful with floating roof tanks where emissions are more difficult to track. Second, we encourage the Committee to consider expediting the implementation of the rules. Thank you, and I am happy to answer any questions.