Maryland Seeks Controls on 36 Upwind Power Plants

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By Andrew Childers

Nov. 16 — Pollution from 36 power plants in five upwind states is impairing Maryland’s ability to meet federal air quality standards, the state said in a Nov. 16 petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency to step in and require new pollution controls at those utilities.

Maryland wants the EPA to require those power plants to operate more efficiently or to operate already installed pollution controls during the summer ozone season to prevent 300 tons of nitrogen oxides, an ozone precursor, from blowing into Maryland. Maryland is asking that the 36 plants be required to operate their pollution controls continuously during the upcoming ozone season beginning May 1, 2017.

The power plants are located in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and the EPA has determined that emissions from those states contribute to ozone formation in Maryland, according to the petition, filed under Section 126 of the Clean Air Act. Maryland will continue to exceed the 75 parts per billion ozone standards set by the EPA in 2008 even after updates to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule are implemented, Maryland said.

The EPA’s cross-state rule established an emissions trading program for power plant pollution that contributes to ozone and particulate matter formation in downwind states. However, Maryland said in its petition that the cross-state rule and other federal trading programs allow power plants to demonstrate their compliance using long term averages of emissions, which can allow some units to operate without utilizing their pollution controls.

Other States Urge EPA to Take Action

Other states also have prodded the EPA to take more action to curb emissions from upwind states.

Connecticut in June filed its own Section 126 petition with the EPA, asking that the agency impose new emissions limits on a coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania. Connecticut’s congressional delegation has supported that request.

Northeastern states also have petitioned the EPA under a separate Clean Air Act provision to add nine Southern and Midwestern states to the Ozone Transport Region. Joining the ozone region would require those nine states to take steps to control emissions of ozone precursors when reviewing permits for industrial facilities. The EPA has agreed to respond to that petition in 2017.

The EPA must respond to Maryland’s petition within 60 days.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Childers in Washington, D.C., at AChilders@bna.com

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

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