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Cap and Trade Program Lowers Smog Levels in Eastern United States/Market based program allows cost-effective reductions of harmful air pollution

Release Date: 10/14/2009
Contact Information: CONTACT: Cathy Milbourn/milbourn.cathy@epa.gov 202-564-7849/202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – EPA released a report showing that more than 103 million Americans breathe cleaner air thanks to a cap and trade program that reduces smog-forming emission of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). The 2008 NOx Budget Trading Program Annual Report, covering 20 eastern states and the District of Columbia, shows the summertime NOx emissions from power plants and large industrial sources were down by 62 percent compared to year 2000 levels and 75 percent lower than in 1990.

Highlights of the report show that:

    The reduction of NOx has helped reduce smog levels by 10 to 14 percent in the NBP region – largely in the eastern parts of the country;
    There is a strong association between areas with the greatest reductions in NOx emissions and downwind sites that show the greatest improvements in smog; and
    The program contributed to improvements in air quality in 97 percent of nonattainment areas in the east, with 85 percent of these areas now below the smog standard.

The NOx Budget Trading Program is a partnership between federal and state governments to reduce the regional transport of NOx from power plants and industry in the eastern U.S. This market-based cap and trade program was created to cost-effectively reduce NOx emissions during the ozone season. This program provides facilities flexibility to choose their control options including installing control technologies, replacing existing controls with more advanced technologies, optimizing existing controls, and switching fuels. This flexibility and an active NOx allowance market have led to near perfect compliance since the start of the program in 2003.

More information on the report: http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/progress/NBP_4.html