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Proposal for interstate transport rule represents important step towards cleaner production for industrial and electricity sources, and for achieving U.S. environmental justice goals

March 11, 2022 Work Area: Power Plants

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) strongly supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s issuance of a proposed federal implementation plan for interstate transport under the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone. The Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision requires EPA to implement a plan for states that fail to address their own significant contributions to ozone attainment problems for their downwind neighbors.  

“We are pleased to see EPA taking strong steps to strengthen protections for public health and the environment by expanding coverage and requiring emissions reductions from the power sector and certain large industrial facilities,” said Hayden Hashimoto, Associate Attorney at CATF. 

The fundamental policy basis for the Good Neighbor provision is that people living in downwind states and communities that have already made significant pollution control commitments should not be subject to the burden of harmful air pollution coming from power plants and other large industrial sources in upwind states that have not adequately required pollution controls.  Ground-level ozone (the main component of “smog”) and its precursors, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds, can travel great distances and cause serious harm to public health and welfare. Ozone exposure causes respiratory illnesses including asthma, can bring on heart attacks, and even cause premature death. Ozone precursors are emitted by a range of industrial and mobile sources, and ozone is especially likely to form on hot sunny days, which occur earlier and later in the year due to climate change. EPA proposes the commonsense step of basing its rule on power plants operating controls they already have installed, while also requiring controls on other significant sources. EPA estimates public health benefits of $15 billion dollars if the rule is finalized as proposed, including prevention of 1,000 premature deaths and 2,400 hospital visits each year.  

The interstate transport rule represents an important step towards cleaner production for industrial and electricity sources, and for achieving the Biden Administration’s environmental justice goals. The interstate transport rule is the first announced element of the Biden EPA’s comprehensive power plant strategy, as discussed by Administrator Regan yesterday. Its expanded coverage, both geographic and sectoral, and its tighter requirements for trading only above the required emissions levels, promise more local public health benefits in the areas near the covered sources, as well as downwind air quality and public health improvements.  

Hashimoto continued: 

“People in the U.S. deserve electricity and other goods that are produced so as to minimize public health harms. It has been unacceptable for power plants, particularly those with installed but unused controls, to continue to emit significant pollution that causes downwind areas to violate national ozone standards, and this rule proposes to correct that. We encourage EPA to move forward expeditiously with finalizing this rule (as required by the Clean Air Act) to further clean up power production by addressing the interstate ozone transport problems faced by downwind states.”    

Press Contact

Troy Shaheen, Communications Director, U.S., Clean Air Task Force, [email protected], +1 845-750-1189

About Clean Air Task Force

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world.  

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