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Eastern Skies Continue Getting Cleaner

Release Date: 09/14/2006
Contact Information: Jennifer Wood, (202) 564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C. - Sept. 14, 2006) Power plants and other large facilities in the East cut ozone-forming emissions 11 percent between 2004 and 2005 under an EPA cap and trade program. The latest analysis illustrates that the agency's NOx Budget Trading Program continues to reduce the amount of the ozone-forming pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOx) released into the nation's skies.

"EPA's success in reducing air pollution from power plants and manufacturing facilities proves we are not blowing smoke. Long term trends show that our nation's air is cleaner than over a generation ago, and continues to improve under the Bush Administration's innovative clean air policies," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By keeping pace in our steady march toward cleaner air and healthier lives, America is breathing easier because of President Bush's commitment to improving our air quality."

The analysis, conducted as part of an annual report on the NOx Budget Trading Program, shows that eastern states have reduced NOx emissions by 57 percent since 2000 and by 72 percent since 1990. In addition, based on 2003-2005 air monitoring data, nearly 70 percent of the areas that did not meet the national air quality standard for 8-hour ozone in 2004 now have better air quality than the standard requires. The NOx Budget Trading Program is the major contributor to these improvements. The Bush Administration's Clean Air Interstate Rule will continue this success with further reductions in ozone-forming emissions.

The NOx Budget Trading Program provides electric generating units such as manufacturing facilities with several options to reduce ozone season NOx emissions, such as 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 led to an over 99 percent compliance rate with the program's requirements.

The Bush Administration's Clean Air Interstate Rule and Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule will build on the NOx SIP Call by requiring additional reductions of NOx emissions both nationally and in the eastern U.S. The Clean Air Interstate Rule will reduce NOx emissions in the eastern U.S. with a similar cap and trade program as the NOx Budget Trading Program by more than 60 percent and help prevent an estimated 17,000 premature deaths annually. The Clean Air Nonroad Diesel rule will reduce nationwide NOx emissions by more than 90 percent and help prevent more than 6,000 children's asthma-related emergency room visits annually.

Established to help states comply with EPA's NOx SIP Call, the NOx Budget Trading Program is designed to significantly reduce the amount of ozone that moves across state boundaries during the warm summer months, when ozone concentrations are highest. To make these reductions, the rule requires NOx reductions in 19 eastern states and the District of Columbia.

On the web:
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Information about ozone and other common air pollutant levels in U.S. cities: