Governors File Clean Air Petition

Dec 10, 2013

Credit National Parks Service

Eight Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday seeking to force nine other states to reduce their air pollution.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont filed the Clean Air Act petition. The Northeast states are seeking to have nine states in the Midwest and South be added to the Ozone Transport Region. Connecticut is spearheading the effort for the states.  Department of Energy and Environmental protection Commissioner Dan Esty explains that under that Clean Air Act provision, states included in the region must limit air pollution consistent with the efforts of downwind states. "The petition seeks to have these states brought into the ozone transport region and by doing that would require the upwind states to step up to the best practices that been adopted by those states that are already in the region."

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy notes that much of the pollution in his state comes from outside its borders. "It is fundamentally unfair for the people of Indiana or Ohio or elsewhere to send their dirty air to my state and then expect that somehow, someway, I am going to make the environment cleaner in Connecticut for our citizens. And it is certainly time for the EPA to bring them in to the same obligations that we been living under for many, many years."

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says it’s time for upwind states to adopt the same mandatory standards because their pollution is impacting his state’s environment and public health. "We’re sick and tired of being the tailpipe to the polluters to our West and to our South."

New Hampshire Governor Margaret Hassan notes that her state receives more than 95 percent of its pollution from upwind states. She says those states must be held accountable by being brought into the Ozone Transport Region. "It's really about the disproportionate efforts that our states would now need to do to improve things, when in fact our upwind states could do some very fundamental things at much lower cost."

The Midwest Ozone Group is an association of primarily large coal-fired electric utilities in the Midwest that focuses on ozone science and transport. Government Relations Committee Chair Attorney Gene Trisko says they contract with an international independent consulting firm to assess emissions, which found that between 1999 and 2011 nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants was reduced in the Northeast 54%, the Midwest 71% and the Southeast 75%.
" So I don’t think its fair to say that the Midwest and Southern states have not been doing their fair share in terms of reducing emissions from coal -based power plants."  

Delaware Governor Jack Markell notes that his state replaced nine coal-fired power plants with natural gas and another installed hundreds of millions of dollars in emissions equipment to make it one of the cleanest plants in the country. "We are now at the point where we could shut off every source of emissions in Delaware and oftentimes not meet the standards.  Somebody else is going to have to take some action."  

But Gene Trisko says the Northeast fails to meet attainment due to vehicle emissions, particularly along the I-95 corridor.  "Alpine Geophysics modeling shows that the largest source of emissions contributing to ozone in the Northeast and elsewhere is mobile sources, not coal-fired power plants."

All of the states filing the petition are led by Democratic governors. The petition targets Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The EPA is required to approve or disapprove the petition within 18 months.