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EPA APPROVES STATE PETITIONS FOR CLEANER AIR

Release Date: 12/17/99
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EMBARGOED UNTIL 1:30 P.M. EDT

FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DEC. 17, 1999
EPA APPROVES STATE PETITIONS FOR CLEANER AIR


In an unprecedented action to protect public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ensured cleaner air for over 100 million Americans by granting clean-air petitions from four states. The petitions specifically target reductions of smog-causing pollutants from large power plants and industrial sources at 392 facilities in 12 states and the District of Columbia.
EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner said, “Today’s action means healthier air for communities located near these polluting plants. But it will also provide public health protection for communities hundreds of miles away where air pollution is carried by the wind across state borders.”

For the first time, EPA has acted under the Clean Air Act to grant petitions submitted by states for relief from smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions that blow across state lines. Today, Browner is granting petitions from Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The agency agreed with the states’ claims that they have difficulty meeting EPA’s smog standard because of emissions from facilities in “upwind” states.

As a result of granting the petitions for Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, this action also will provide cleaner air for citizens in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Today’s action sets forth emission-reduction requirements for large electric utilities and industrial boilers and turbines in the following states: Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. As part of this action, EPA is establishing a trading program which will allow facilities to meet their required reductions in a cost-effective, flexible way. These facilities must implement controls to achieve their required emission reductions by May 1, 2003.

In addition, petitions currently are pending from the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. EPA will act on these petitions in the near future. However, the majority of out-of-state sources targeted by these states are addressed in the petitions being approved today. The result of today’s action will mean cleaner air for these states.
Smog contributes to serious respiratory health effects, including exacerbated cases of childhood asthma. Even at very low levels, ground-level ozone can cause acute respiratory problems, reduce lung capacity, inflame lung tissue; lead to increased visits to hospital emergency rooms, and impair the body’s immune system.

The Clean Air Act gives each state the authority to ask EPA to set emissions limits for specific sources of pollution in other states (such as, power plants and industrial boilers) that significantly contribute to the petitioning states’s air quality problems. Once a state petitions EPA to set limits, EPA reviews the petition and determines 1) whether the state has an air quality problem, 2) whether the sources of pollution named in the petition significantly contribute to the problem and, if so, 3) what those sources must do to reduce their pollution.

In April 1999, EPA was unable to approve petitions from four other states -- Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont – because these four states had met the smog standard. Many of the polluting facilities included in these petitions will be required to reduce their emissions as a result of today’s action. As a result, these four states also will see improved air quality. EPA had previously proposed to approve the four petitions on which it is taking final action today.

For more on today’s action, including detailed state and facility information, go to: http://www.epa.gov/airlinks, or call Lydia Wegman at EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards at 919-541-5505.

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