A Hearty Thank You to EPA from New England: We will breathe easier now

N. Jonathan Peress

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (“CSAPR”), released today by EPA, is designed to reduce ozone and particulate (e.gt., soot) emissions from power plants in the upwind states to our west that cause death and sickness in the states receiving those emissions, like the New England states (known to some as the “tailpipe of the nation”).  The actions leading to the rule began in the late 90s, when Massachusetts and its fellow Northeast states petitioned EPA under the Clean Air Act “good neighbor rule,” which prevents emissions in an upwind state from harming air quality as prevailing winds transported the pollution.

CSAPR builds on rules the Bush Administration issued, which are resulting in billions of dollars in emissions control investment and air pollution reductions, but which courts struck down as illegally weak.  In finalizing these strengthened  rules which seek to hit the standard set by the Clean Air Act, EPA balanced concerns of industry and health advocates with a new methodology using cost effective controls and providing flexibility by allowing emissions trading – an approach favored by the electric utility industry.

The result will be massive reductions in pollution and over $120 billion per year in benefits from decreased mortality, hospitalizations and sick days.  Because of the actions our states have taken to reduce emissions, the rule does not impose any new requirements in on any New England state but is predicted to result in Massachusetts attaining the air quality standards required by the Clean Air Act.

The rule validates the air pollution control policies adopted by Massachusetts and the Northeast states by leveling the playing  field so that obsolete and high-polluting power plants in the Midwest and Southeast can no longer export their air pollution to states that have already reduced their emissions.

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