Interstate Air Pollution Transport
The transport of air pollution into the state of Connecticut is a significant issue. Because of the magnitude of the transport problem, Connecticut has long advocated for timely implementation of upwind emissions reductions. Below are the developments of two recent actions utilizing the Clean Air Act (CAA). Specifically, CAA Section 176 and Section 126.
Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on December 10, 2013, to require upwind states to reduce air pollution generated within their borders, which causes asthma attacks, respiratory disease, and other public health problems downwind.
The multi-state action is aimed at requiring nine upwind states – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia – to be a ‘good neighbor’ by reducing air pollution emissions that are carried by prevailing winds and contribute to the formation of ozone to the north and east. The petition seeks long-overdue commitments from the upwind states to protect the health of downwind residents and to level the playing field for businesses.
The petition asks EPA to require the nine upwind states to join in what is known as the “Ozone Transport Region” (OTR). Under the federal Clean Air Act, states added to the OTR would have to take actions to limit air pollution consistent with the efforts of the downwind states through the use of readily available control technologies and reliance on cleaner fuels to generate power.
States who filed the petition on December 9, 2013 – all current members of the OTR – are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Pennsylvania joined the petition on December 10, 2013.
Under Section 176A of the federal Clean Air Act, states can petition the EPA to add any state to an air quality region such as the OTR if there is reason to believe it is the source of pollution-causing violations of air quality standards elsewhere. The EPA Administrator is required to approve or disapprove such a petition within 18 months.
In the DEEP petition to EPA, DEEP asks for an abatement of emissions from the three coal-fired units in York County, PA, because they alone significantly contribute to ozone levels that exceed the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard in Connecticut.
Granting the petition would require the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, a precursor pollutant of ozone, such that the plant no longer emits at an amount that contributes to ozone exceedances in Connecticut. The petition asks that meaningful reductions be achieved in no more than three years.
Under Section 126 of the federal Clean Air Act, states can petition the EPA Administrator for a finding that a stationary source in another state emits air pollution in violation of the Act. The Administrator must make the requested finding or deny the petition within 60 days after receipt, and after a public hearing. Once EPA makes a finding, the Act requires that the violating source not operate three months after the finding regardless of whether the source has been operating under a duly issued state operating permit. The Administrator may allow the source to operate beyond such time only if the source complies with emission limitations and compliance schedules as the Administrator may direct to bring about compliance.
Content last updated August 9, 2017