Eastern States Petition EPA to Add Nine Upwind States to Ozone Transport Region

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By Andrew Childers  

Dec. 9 --Eight downwind Eastern states petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 9 to add nine Southern and Midwestern states to the Ozone Transport Region.

Adding those nine states would require them to take steps to curb interstate transport of air pollution that contributes to nonattainment with the EPA's national ambient air quality standards in the downwind states.

The eight states filing the petition are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

They asked the EPA to add Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia to the Ozone Transport Region.

“We're sick and tired of being the tailpipe for the polluters to our west and to the south,” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) told reporters Dec. 9.

The states filed their petition under Section 176A of the Clean Air Act. If approved, the nine states added to the Ozone Transport Region would be required to submit state plans within nine months to administer new source review permitting and reasonably available control technology (RACT) requirements for emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which contribute to ozone formation.

The EPA has 18 months to respond to the petition.

The Ozone Transport Region was established by the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act and includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia and portions of the Northern Virginia suburbs.

Upwind States Approached.

The petitioning states said that they have approached the upwind states about voluntary measures to reduce interstate transport of pollution emissions without success.

“The only recourse now left to us is to engage the other states and require them to do the same things we've been doing for some time now,” Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy (D) told reporters.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) said that on some elevated ozone days as much as 90 percent of the air pollution blows in from out of state.

“This means we could shut off every source of emissions in Delaware and still not meet air quality standards. That's unacceptable and that demands action,” he said.

The downwind states said they have individually reduced emissions of air pollutants by as much as 70 percent since the Ozone Transport Region was enacted, but they still cannot attain the EPA's air quality standards due to emissions blowing into their states.

Colin O'Mara, Delaware secretary of environment and energy, said the downwind states chose to petition the EPA because the necessary emissions reductions can be achieved more cost effectively in the upwind states. The petitioning states have already taken steps to reduce their emissions and further reductions would cost as much as $10,000 per ton of emissions prevented. That is compared to as little as $200 per ton in the upwind states, O'Mara said.

Court to Hear Cross-State Arguments.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Dec. 10 on the EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would require upwind states to reduce pollution that crosses state lines and interferes with air quality downwind (EPA v. EME Homer City Generation LP, U.S., No. 12-1182, reply brief filed 12/2/13; .

“Even that rule is not strong enough. We'd need further improvements and tightening of that rule even in addition to the petition we're making today under 176A,” said Daniel Etsy, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.


To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Childers in Washington at achilders@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl in Washington at lpearl@bna.com

The petition of the eight Eastern states is available at http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/air/176a/Petition_2013Dec9.pdf.