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Anti-MATEP Groups Request EPA Not to Exempt Facility

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Local opponents of Harvard's Medical Area Total Energy Plant (MATEP) filed a complaint this week with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), disputing the agency's tentative plan to exempt the plant from federal pollution regulations.

The complaint questions the EPA's recent decision that MATEP does not have to comply with the Clean Air Act because it is a non-profit facility.

The Brookline town government and the Brookline Citizens to Protect the Environment told the EPA that Harvard originally designed the plant as a profit-making corporation and only changed its status when the facility became a "losing proposition," Daniel G. Partan, a town selectman, said yesterday.

The anti-MATEP group also told the EPA that it should not exempt the plant as an educational or health related institution because only 20 per cent of its output will be used by the University, Partan said.

David M. Rosen, director of governmental public relations for Harvard, said that under Massachusetts law MATEP, Inc., the corporation that currently owns the plant, is a "non-profit urban development corporation." He declined to comment on the status of the original corporation set up to run the plant.

The University's lawyers will formally respond to the complaint before the EPA by April 6, Rosen added.

The EPA must exempt non-profit health or educational institutions from the Clean Air Act at the request of the state governor. Gov. Edward J. King made the necessary request for MATEP early last month.

The plant was designed to produce steam, chilled water, and electricity for the Harvard Medical Area. Objections to the facility's emission of nitrous dioxide and other pollutants have delayed since 1975 the installation of diesel generators needed to make it economically feasible.

The EPA tentatively announced on March 16 that it would allow MATEP, Inc. to install and operate the diesel equipment. The agency provided a two-week period for public comment on the decision.

Linda Murphy, an EPA spokesman, said yesterday that the agency had received "40 to 50 letters" protesting the decision including one from the attorney representing Brookline and some of its residents.

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