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EPA Proposes to Approve NY and NJ Plans to Reduce Smog in the Northeast

Release Date: 11/28/2000
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(#00215) New York, New York -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has moved one step closer to making those all-too-common smoggy summer days in the northeast a thing of the past, with its proposed approval of New York and New Jersey’s plans to reduce nitrogen oxides pollution. Nitrogen oxides are a key ingredient of smog, the murky, steamy air that can cause some to reach for their inhalers or take a trip to the hospital.

The EPA’s proposed approvals of the New York and New Jersey plans are part of an overall strategy to curb the transport of harmful pollutants across state borders. Under the strategy, commonly called the NOx SIP Call, EPA is currently requiring 19 states in the midwest, south and northeast and the District of Columbia to place further controls on nitrogen oxides, which are primarily emitted by large industrial boilers and power plants. Each of these states and the District must meet a set "budget" that limits nitrogen oxide emissions. The budgets were calculated based on what would be emitted in that state if all of its power plants and boilers were clean. These budgets will generally mean large reductions in nitrogen oxide emission in the midwest and south, with more modest reductions in the northeast, where nitrogen oxide pollution is already stringently controlled.

"For a long time, power plants and industrial boilers in the midwest and the south have emitted much more pollution than plants and boilers in the northeast. EPA has evened the playing field. One state’s air pollution will not be allowed to keep another state from meeting the goal of clean, healthy air," said Jeanne M. Fox, Administrator of the EPA region that covers New York and New Jersey.

"Since many boilers and power plants in the midwest and south are not operating cleanly, those states must make large reductions in the amount of nitrogen oxide that they can emit overall."

These reductions will help the entire eastern portion of the country meet federal health-based standards for smog, the most persistent and serious air pollution problem in the northeast. Exposure to smog can cause significant health effects -- including asthma attacks, breathing and respiratory problems, loss of lung function, and possible long-term lung damage and lowered disease immunity.

EPA recognized that pollution coming in from upwind of the northeast would prevent the air in the area from meeting federal health standards for smog, even with the tight controls being placed on pollution in the northeast. To meet the goal of healthful air for all, EPA put this plan into place. This plan will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions a total of about one million tons per ozone season. For their part, New York is reducing its seasonal nitrogen oxide emissions by 16,000 tons and New Jersey is reducing its emissions by 9,000 tons. The plans that EPA is today proposing to approve lay out these reductions and meet the requirements of EPA’s overall plan.

"New York and New Jersey are doing their part to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, but the northeast can not clean up its air alone, we must reduce the amount of pollution that is drifting in to these states from other states," Fox added.

The Agency is taking public comment on its proposed approval of the plans, which can be obtained on EPA’s web site at http://www.epa.gov/region02/air/air.htm.   Once these actions are published in the Federal Register, comments will be taken for 30 days. The notice for New Jersey is expected to be published by December 1 and the notice for New York will be published sometime the week of December 4. Comments should be submitted to Mr. Raymond Werner, Air Programs Branch Chief, U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, New York, New York 10007 or e-mailed to werner.raymond@epa.gov.  For more information about the EPA’s overall strategy, go to the web site at www.epa.gov/ttn/rto/sip/index.html..