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PR EPA ANNOUNCES FIRST STEP IN REGIONAL STRATEGY TO MEET SMOG STANDARDS

Release Date: 10/10/97
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EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 11 A.M. (EDT) FRIDAY, OCT. 10, 1997

EPA ANNOUNCES FIRST STEP IN REGIONAL STRATEGY TO MEET SMOG STANDARDS
EPA today provided Eastern states with proposed targets for reducing the emissions that create smog problems throughout the eastern part of the United States. The new strategy, developed cooperatively with 37 states, recommends that such reductions can be achieved most cost-effectively by focusing on power plant emissions. Such reductions are necessary for meeting the current health standard for smog and are the central component for meeting EPA's new health standard for smog that was made final in July.
"For the first time, EPA and the states are working together to control smog on a region-wide basis,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. “Smog annually causes hundreds of thousands of cases of lung disease in the United States. These reductions alone will help almost all areas to achieve EPA's new, more protective air standards in a cost-effective, common sense way."

After a public comment period, the regional proposal would become final in the fall of 1998. The states then will have an additional year to complete clean air plans to achieve their reductions of nitrogen oxide emissions. Pollution controls to meet those reductions would have to be in place by 2002, and clean air benefits must be attained by 2005. Compliance with the newly-updated health standard will be required beginning in 2004 with full compliance no later than 2012, although today’s action will likely help most states achieve that standard much earlier.

EPA's proposal is based on a two-year comprehensive assessment of regional smog problems in the Eastern United States by 37 states and the District of Columbia. EPA estimates, based on that assessment, that reductions in the nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to the formation of smog can be achieved for as little as $1700 per ton, which is substantially cheaper than any alternative. For example, additional reductions from cars would cost $3100 per ton.

To ensure that the reductions are as cost-effective as possible, EPA also is developing a market-based emissions trading system under which utilities that cannot meet the reductions can buy and trade "credits" from utilities that exceed reduction limits. This system has already been used successfully under EPA’s acid rain control program.

Today's proposal -- although recommending utilities as the most cost-effective source for reductions -- gives states the flexibility to achieve emission reductions from any sources they may choose.

Last July, EPA made final its new air standards for smog and small particles. At that time, EPA announced an implementation strategy that would take advantage of on-going initiatives to ensure that states could meet the new standards cost-effectively. Today's plan is the centerpiece of that strategy.

The states potentially affected by today's proposal are Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

EPA was also petitioned in August by eight Northeastern states to impose a mandatory smog reduction schedule on specified facilities in upwind states. The Agency is working with the states to develop a comprehensive resolution that is fully coordinated with today's proposal.

The proposal will appear soon in the Federal Register, but can be downloaded immediately from the EPA Office of Air and Radiation website on the Internet, under “recently signed rules at (http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/rules.html). ( For further technical information on the proposal, contact Jeff Clark of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at 919-541-5557, or e-mail him at:clark.jeff@epamail.epa.gov).

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