The Honorable Luis G. Fortuño Governor of Puerto Rico La Fortaleza San Juan, Puerto Rico 00902-0082 Dear Governor Fortuflo: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has asked me to reply ti,) your letter of October 7, 2011. The EPA supports strategies that reduce the use of high sulfur fuel cil,which contributes significantly to air pollution and is responsible for high asthma rates and a range c C other health problems. The EPA is encouraged that Puerto Rico is exploring the increased use of renewable energy s)urces, especially solar, wind and tidal power. Equally important are investments in energy efficienc: and mass transit. As you stated in your letter, in 1998, the EPA entered into a Consent Decree with the uerto Rico Electric and Power Authority to resolve significant and multiple violations of the federa Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other laws. The Consent Decree, which was modified in 2004, ias resulted in improved air quality and health benefits across the island. Currently, PREPA plants at San Juan, Palo Seco, South Coast and Aguirre are required eithei by permit or by Consent Decree to burn fuel oil with no more than 0.50% sulfur content. In your letter, you request revisions of permits and terms of the agreement that would allow PREPA to burn fuel oil wit i a sulfur content of 1.00% or more, which would be at least twice as dirty as the fuel currently being used. Documentation submitted quarterly by PREPA indicates that PREPA continues to be in vioh .tion of specified emissions and opacity limits (i.e. smoke from stacks) and is occasionally in violati n of other terms of the Consent Decree. PREPA's proposed use of a higher sulfur fuel oil will further eacerbate these issues at the facility because an increase in sulfur content will result in higher particulaLe and sulfate emissions and higher opacity conditions. Under the terms of the Consent Decree, EPi and PREPA can agree to propose the termination of the Consent Decree to the court if PREPA h is complied with its terms for three years. As documented in its reports, PREPA continues to be out of c mpliance with the Consent Decree. Given the continued lack of compliance and its potential impacts cn air quality and people's health, EPA cannot support a termination or modification of the Consent Decrce at this time. Puerto Rico has the highest asthma rate in the nation. Increased air pollution (i.e. fine partic] es and sulfates from fuel combustion) has been determined to cause respiratory problems and aggr vate asthma symptoms. It also increases the risk of cancer to those exposed. Allowing PREPA to return io burning dirtier oil would turn the clock back on air quality improvements in Puerto Rico. We do, ho'vever, stand ready to support in any way possible the efforts your administration is undertaking to promcte electricity generation with cleaner alternatives.
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Thank you again for your letter. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact me directly at 212-637-5000 or your staff may call Bonnie Bellow, Public Affairs Division Director, at 212-637-3660.

C Judith A. Enck Regional Administrator