EPA Strengthens Key Power Plant Rule to Reduce Smog this Summer and Improve Air Quality for Millions of Americans
WASHINGTON (March 15, 2021) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing revisions to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) Update to help areas affected by pollution emitted by power plants in other states meet the 2008 national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as smog. Starting this summer, power plants in 12 states will be required to cut smog-forming emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) that contribute to unhealthy air quality in communities downwind by installing, improving or upgrading pollution controls. Exposure to ground-level ozone can cause respiratory issues, aggravate asthma and other lung diseases and lead to missed days of work or school, emergency room visits and premature deaths.
“EPA plays a critical role by working with states and the power sector to prevent pollution released in one state from harming the health and air quality of its neighbors,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “The action we are taking today will not only help states meet their clean air obligations, but, more importantly, deliver cleaner, healthier air to millions of Americans starting this summer.”
EPA estimates that the Revised CSAPR Update will reduce NOX emissions from power plants in 12 states in the eastern United States by 17,000 tons beginning in 2021 compared to projections without the rule. Due to this rulemaking and other changes already underway in the power sector, ozone season NOX emissions in these 12 states will be nearly 25,000 tons lower in 2021 than in 2019, a reduction of 19 percent. The reduction in emissions is estimated to prevent about 290,000 asthma events, 560 hospital and emergency room visits, 110,000 days of missed work and school, and up to 230 premature deaths in 2025. The public health and climate benefits are valued annually, on average, at up to $2.8 billion each year over the period 2021 to 2040.
Required at power plants in 12 upwind states, the additional emissions reductions are based on both improving the performance or utilization of pollution controls already installed beginning in the 2021 ozone season and installation or upgrade of state-of-the-art NOX combustion controls beginning in the 2022 ozone season. The reductions in NOX emissions will lead to significant improvements in air quality beginning in the 2021 ozone season, which starts in May.
During warm weather months, NOX emissions from power plants can react in the atmosphere to create ground-level ozone, or smog. These pollutants can travel great 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.
Projected 2021 emissions from power plants in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia were found to contribute to pollution levels that would harm the ability of downwind states to meet or maintain the 2008 ozone NAAQS.
The rule responds to the September 2019 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Wisconsin v. EPA) by addressing the “significant contribution” of pollution from particular upwind states to downwind states under the authority provided in Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I), in order to help downwind states meet and maintain compliance with the 2008 ozone standard.
More information: https://www.epa.gov/csapr/revised-cross-state-air-pollution-rule-update