EPA wants to tighten up on polluting states

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposals for cutting smog-forming emissions from power plants. It wants to cut the power plant pollution from 31 'upwind' eastern states and the District of Columbia.

"This rule is designed to cut pollution that spreads hundreds of miles and has enormous negative impacts on millions of Americans," said EPA administrator Lisa P Jackson.

"We’re working to limit pollution at its source, rather than waiting for it to move across the country. The reductions we’re proposing will save billions in health costs, help increase American educational and economic productivity, and - most importantly - save lives."

The EPA wants to use the 'good neighbor' provision of the Clean Air Act to reduce interstate transport - emissions from upwind states that contribute to air quality problems further down the line. This makes it harder for those downwind states to meet their targets.

The new rule, known as the transport rule, would mandate a cut in power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to meet state-by-state emission reductions. These react in the atmosphere to form fine particle pollution and ground-level ozone - smog - which have been linked to illness and premature death.

By 2014, these and other actions would reduce SO2 emissions by 71 percent over 2005 levels, says the EPA. NOx emissions would drop by 52 percent.

The new proposal would replace the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ordered EPA to revise in 2008. The EPA says it would yield more than $120 billion in annual health benefits in 2014, including the prevention of up to 36,000 premature deaths.