EPA to Limit Drifting Smog

by | Jul 7, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency today finalized widely anticipated Clean Air Act regulations on pollution that crosses state lines.

In an announcement shortly before noon Eastern, the EPA said the Clean Air Transport Rule will cut hundreds of thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that form soot and smog. These threaten the 240 million Americans living downwind of smokestacks, the agency said.

It predicted that the rule, along with other state and EPA actions, will reduce SO2 emissions by 73 percent from 2005 levels. NOx emissions will drop by 54 percent, the agency said.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, as it is formally known, replaces and strengthens the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered EPA to revise in 2008. The court allowed CAIR to remain in place temporarily while the EPA worked to finalize today’s replacement rule, the agency said.

Under today’s rule-making, 27 states in the eastern U.S. will work with power plants to cut air pollution.  The EPA said the rule ensures flexibility by helping states to develop cost-effective emissions-reductions actions.

And in a supplemental rulemaking, the EPA is also proposing to require sources in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin to reduce NOX emissions during the summertime ozone season.

The EPA said that the regulations announced today will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days a year beginning in 2014 – achieving up to $280 billion in annual health benefits.

“These clean air standards for power plant pollution will provide some of the greatest human health protections in our nation’s history,” Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp said. “Today’s clean air protections will help eastern states restore healthy air in communities hard hit by air pollution, and will help all of us live longer and healthier lives.”

The proposal is open for public review and comment for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information on the regulations is available here.

Picture credit: Mark Taylor

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