WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency says that pollution drifting downwind from 27 states severely compromises the ability of neighboring states to meet Clean Air Act standards and that it is introducing federal plans to force the polluting states to clean-up their act.
Under the agency’s newly adopted Cross State Air-Pollution Rule offending states may replace the federal plan with their own plans to achieve the required amount of emissions reductions from the pollution sources in their states.
Emissions from these sources, mostly power plants, are transported downwind either as SO2 and NOX or, after transformation in the atmosphere, as fine particles or ozone.
Under the Clean Air Act, all states must develop plans to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards set in 1997 for the annual amount of particulate matter and ozone emitted and in 2006 for the amount of particulate matter allowed in any 24 hour period.
When a state fails to adopt a plan the EPA believes will bring air quality to within those standards, or where pollution from an upwind state makes it impossible for a downwind state to comply, the agency can impose a federal plan.
The EPA’s plan for the 27 states in the eastern, Midwestern and southern part of the country would bring all but two areas into compliance with the standards, and further reductions in local emissions will be required in those two areas.
This is the second time the EPA has tried to impose a rule regulating cross state pollution of particulate matter and ozone.
A 2005 attempt, the Clean Air Interstate Rule was remanded to the agency by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which found that that rule was too general in assessing the impact of downwind pollution.
The new rule relies on data specific to each power plant in the upwind states to apportion the amount of its pollution that is crossing state lines.
While court challenges are likely, the new rule is set to go into effect Oct. 7, 2011, with the first emissions reductions to be phased in during 2012.