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EPA Report: Smog Thinner, Skies Healthier over Eastern U.S.

Release Date: 09/27/2007
Contact Information: Jennifer Wood, (202) 564-4355 / wood.jennifer@epa.gov Dale Kemery, (202) 564-4355 / kemery.dale@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Sept. 27, 2007) Smog-forming emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plants and industry have declined significantly in 19 eastern states and the District of Columbia. The NOx Budget Trading Program (NBP) annual report, released today, indicates that summertime NOx emissions were seven percent lower than in 2005, 60 percent lower than in 2000 and 74 percent lower than in 1990.

"The proof is in the numbers. By cutting smog-forming emissions, 55 million Americans in the eastern United States are breathing easier thanks to President Bush's clean air policies," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "NOx reductions are not just good news for the health of our environment and the health of our residents, they are good news for the health of our economy."

The reduction of NOx – a precursor to ground-level ozone, or "smog" – has helped reduce ground-level ozone concentrations an average of 5-8 percent in the eastern United States in the last three years. Four out of five eastern ozone non-attainment areas now meet the current standard.

The EPA report tracks summertime emission reductions from 1990 to 2006 and assesses the impact of these reductions on ozone air quality in the eastern region. The largest NOx reductions occurred in the mid-central area of the eastern United States including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.

The NOx Budget Trading Program is flexible and lets electric generating units choose the best options to reduce NOx emissions during ozone season for their facilities. Options include adding NOx emission-control technologies, replacing existing controls with more advanced technologies or optimizing existing controls. This flexibility, and an active NOx allowance market, has helped lead to an over 99 percent compliance rate with the program's requirements.

The 2006 NOx Budget report is online at: epa.gov/airmarkets/progress/nbp06.html