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Merck & Co., Inc.

Letter from Betty S. Sellers to Robin Moran

April 18, 1997

Ms. Robin Moran
Environmental Protection Agency
841 Chestnut building
Philadelphia, PA 19107-4431

Re: Merck XL Project - Community Voting Participation at the Five Year Periodic Review

Dear Robin:

Again, as I have stated on many occasions, I highly support the Merck XL Project. The goals the project wishes to accomplish are highly commendable ones, most especially, the strong environmental benefit to the community and the Shenandoah National Park. However, I wish to reiterate that the community strongly believes that the three community representatives who are appointed to the five year periodic review by the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors with full approval by the signatories to the project, should be allowed to come to consensus and then cast one single vote along with the voting signatories regarding future proposed changes to the PSD permit.

The community's reasons for this request are primarily because there is no affirmative renewal clause in the agreement, thus allowing the project unending or unlimited duration. Additionally, the five year review period, though necessary to address new criteria pollutant regulations that are promulgated and etc., is a mechanism for allowing important changes to be made to the PSD permit - changes the community at large should be directly involved in, according to directives mandated by President Clinton and guidelines established by EPA.

The community believes the environmental benefit at the beginning of the project to be good - a powerhouse conversion to natural gas, retirement of approximately 300 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, and the respectable level at which the cap is set at the beginning of this project. Additionally, the community appreciates representation of county government as a signatory to the project, thus providing needed structure and stability for community involvement in the project.

Again, however, the lack of voting representation at the five year review period for the local community at large remains the big problem that must be resolved to the satisfaction of the community. Basically in order to get the above mentioned benefits, EPA is asking the community to gamble heavily on the distinct future possibility that the PSD permit will not change drastically environmentally speaking. To be remembered, the permit cannot be changed without Merck's consent. The emissions cap could be changed without the consent of the local community stakeholders. This is quite a gamble for the community.

With regard to our local government signatory, the community representatives appointed to the five year reviews cannot dictate to county government how to vote on proposed changes to the PSD permit. Neither can one board member dictate to or bind the other board members. The board votes as a group. Elkton area residents only elect one of the five member Board of Supervisors. Four board members from other county areas also then vote on Elkton issues. County board members have many local governmental responsibilities to fulfill, as well as holding down full time jobs. In all probability, for practicality purposes, the community representatives appointed to the periodic review will need to devote long hours to the project to lighten the load of board members who have a busy agenda. However, these community representatives putting in the time with the board members do not have a vote. We need to remember that Merck and the rest of the signatories have a veto power over the candidates Rockingham County chooses as community representatives to the review process until all signatories feel assured that they have three suitable community representatives. The interests of county government and the local community at large are not necessarily the same and could easily differ vastly on proposed changes to the PSD permit. The review process allows the XL project to continually make important future policy changes as required or needed by all the stakeholders. EPA's documentation states a willingness to empower local citizens in this ongoing process. Disallowing the three community representatives one single vote in this process reduces their input to a mere advisory role at best.

Should the county government vote in direct opposition to the three community representatives on an important future change to the PSD permit, EPA has stated that the community has the assurance of a public hearing for protection. It is my honest belief that when the proposed change reaches the public hearing stage, "it is over" and one can say with assurance that the proposed change is next to finished. I believe experience will bear me out, as to my knowledge, only two or three people at the most attended the DEQ Project XL public hearing, with only one person asking any questions. Very few people from the local community attended EPA's April 14 Merck XL public hearing. Community people have stated repeatedly that the Merck XL project is very complex and that they wouldn't know the appropriate questions to ask even if they did come. The local community at large looks to their community representatives and EPA for representation and protection. Thus, when a proposed change reaches public hearing stage, the proposed change becomes "a runaway train" in all probability.

In closing, I wish to extend a hearty thanks for the privilege of working with EPA on this highly innovative, promising environmental project. It is my sincere wish that the project will become a reality and that Merck will be pleased with the operational flexibility it receives from this project. However, the local community at large should not be asked to gamble health and peace of mind.


Betty S. Sellers - Community Representative, Working Group, Merck XL Project
Route 5, Box 570, Elkton, VA 22827

cc: Julie Thomas, NPS
Karen Malkin, NPS
David Carr, SELC
Larry Simmons, DEQ
Nancy Summers
Bill Grant, Sierra Club
Ted Jett, Merck
Bill Sipe

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