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DEP wants Allentown to think twice before voting on 'clean air ordinance'

By Jamie Peter, WFMZ.com Reporter, JPeter@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 18 2013 07:32:13 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 03:48:56 PM CDT
Waste-to-energy plant proposed for Allentown

Waste-to-energy plant proposed for Allentown

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The Department of Environmental Protection is warning Allentown to slow down and think twice about the possibility of making the city's air quality standards stricter than the state's.

Council is expected to vote Wednesday night on an ordinance that would allow the city to set stricter air quality control than the state's own Air Pollution Control Act.  This all stems from the plan for Delta Thermo to build a waste-to-energy plant in the city.

If council votes it down, the issue will go to the voters as a referendum on the November ballot.

Council has yet to decide if it will strengthen the city's standards.  Tuesday, David Raphael, Chief Counsel to the DEP, reminded Allentown's City Solicitor that city ordinances do not supersede state law.

For one, he pointed to the ordinance's requirement to set emissions limits, fees and penalties for the waste-to-energy plant as being in conflict with the fact that state lawmakers have given the DEP exclusive authority to regulate emissions.

A city spokesperson said it was unclear how the letter will influence council members' votes.  Allentown City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

You can read the letter from the DEP here.