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EPA Finalizes Rule to Reduce Smog-Forming Pollution Transported Across State Lines

Cost-effective final rule provides public health benefits for Americans in the East

09/07/2016
Contact Information: 
Enesta Jones (jones.enesta@epa.gov)
202-564-7873, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized updates to the agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) that will help protect communities in the eastern U.S. from smog-forming pollution that crosses state lines and will help states meet the 2008 air quality standards for smog, or ozone. The CSAPR Update will continue to reduce summertime emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) from power plants that contribute to downwind ozone problems in the eastern U.S.

“Today’s update builds on the decades of success under the Clean Air Act that has led to significant cuts in nitrogen oxide emissions from upwind states that affect their downwind neighbors,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The common-sense actions that power plants can take to quickly and affordably reduce this harmful pollution will help protect the health and lives of millions of Americans, restore visibility at our nation’s most treasured parks, and ensure that air quality continues to improve in the eastern United States.”

The CSAPR Update identifies cuts in NOX emissions in 22 states that contribute significantly to downwind ozone air quality problems and can be achieved using already installed, proven and cost-effective control technologies and other readily available approaches at affected sources. The cuts in NOx emissions under the final rule will lead to significant improvements in air quality starting in the 2017 ozone season (May-September).

EPA estimates that in 2017 this rule and other changes already underway in the power sector will help cut ozone season NOx emissions by 80,000 tons—a 20 percent reduction from 2015 levels. The final rule will provide annual benefits of up to $880 million in 2017, far outweighing the estimated costs of $68 million. For every dollar invested, American families would see up to $13 in health benefits.

The final CSAPR Update also provides improvements to visibility in national and state parks, and increases protection for sensitive ecosystems including Adirondack lakes and Appalachian streams, coastal waters and estuaries, and forests.

NOX emissions can react in the atmosphere to create ground-level ozone pollution, especially during the warm summer months. These pollutants can travel long distances, often crossing state lines and making it difficult for other states to meet and maintain the air quality standards for ozone that EPA establishes to protect public health.

Following the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” mandate to limit interstate air pollution, the rule will help states that are struggling to protect air quality from pollution emitted outside their borders, and it uses an approach that can be applied in the future to help areas continue to meet and maintain air quality health standards.Under the "good neighbor" provision, states develop state implementation plans while EPA plays a backstop role by issuing federal implementation plans (FIPs) if a state fails to submit an approvable plan. Today's action provides the FIP, and a partial remedy, for all 22 affected states under EPA's backstop obligation.

CSAPR, which was finalized in 2011, was designed to help states meet the 1997 ozone standards. EPA’s approach in the 2011 rule has now been affirmed by the Supreme Court and EPA is applying this same approach to the 2008 ozone air quality standards to help states address transported ozone pollution under the strengthened standards. The final CSAPR Update reflects stakeholder input and more than 15,000 comments received during the public comment process for the proposal, a public hearing, and a July 2015 Notice of Data Availability (NODA). The rule also responds to the July 2015 decision of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, addressing the court's concerns regarding ozone season NOx emissions budgets for 11 states.

More information: https://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/final-cross-state-air-pollution-rule-update

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