EPA Under Fire from East Coast States for Lack of Emissions Standards Enforcement

by | Feb 4, 2019

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A group of states in the Northeast are challenging the EPA to keep its promise to enforce adherence to stricter ozone emission standards from upwind states. In litigation filed last week in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, six states and New York City are attempting to hold the EPA responsible for ozone pollution standards, following a decision in December by the Trump Administration to take no further action on controlling such emissions from coal-powered plants in upwind states until at least 2023.

States involved in the action include Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

While New Jersey has stringent pollution controls for coal-powered plants, the state has never achieved federal air-quality standards for ozone — a fact which the state blames on pollution from upwind states like Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia, writes New Jersey Spotlight. Similarly, Maryland requires that plants within its borders run their pollution-control technology more often, but officials estimate that only about 30% of its smog comes from inside the state.

The EPA said in 2016 that it would require those upwind states to adhere to stricter standards, but in December, the EPA finalized a rule that said it would require no new emissions reductions.

The lawsuit is one of many from East Coast states attempting to hold upwind states responsible for their emissions. New Jersey participated in a multi-state case challenging EPA’s refusal to impose tougher standards directly on the upwind coal-burning plants themselves. Connecticut has been involved in several lawsuits against the Trump administration attempting to defend policies like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Power Plan, writes WNPR.

The EPA’s own studies have demonstrated that pollution coming from other states contributes substantially to harmful levels of smog. Ozone pollution is the direct result of burning fossil fuels and operating factories. Nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds form as a result, leading to ground-level smog. That, in turn, can cause respiratory illness in children and the elderly.

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