WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Federal Implementation Plan Addressing Regional Ozone Transport for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (Good Neighbor Federal Plan or Good Neighbor FIP). The rule will reduce interstate ozone (also referred to as smog) pollution to improve air quality in downwind states.
“We are pleased to see EPA take this critically important and legally required step to implement the Clean Air Act’s good neighbor provision by finalizing the Good Neighbor Federal Plan, which will protect residents of downwind states from smog caused by inadequate pollution controls in upwind states,” said Hayden Hashimoto, attorney at Clean Air Task Force, who represented Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future and Clean Air Council in the district court action leading to today’s release. “Persistent air pollution from upwind states has created an inequitable situation in which downwind states’ residents suffer from poor air quality largely due to pollution emitted by industrial and mobile sources in their upwind neighbors. Downwind states that have already reduced their emissions have been left in the untenable position of trying to solve air quality problems that have been largely caused by upwind sources.”
The Good Neighbor FIP will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), an ozone precursor emitted by a range of industrial and mobile sources, to address downwind ozone pollution. Smog and its precursors can travel long distances, and ozone poses serious risks to public health, as exposure to ozone can aggravate diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases. The rule will reduce these emissions during the summer ozone season, as ozone formation and ozone levels can be particularly high on hot sunny days, which are becoming more common due to climate change.
Congress created a solution to this problem through the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, which prohibits emissions from upwind states that contribute significantly to downwind nonattainment or create problems maintaining air quality standards. In this rule, EPA requires power plants and certain industrial sources to limit their NOx emissions based on available technologies. This will result in both downwind air quality improvements and improvements in air quality for communities living near these sources. And as a recent win in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit shows, EPA is on firm legal ground in implementing the good neighbor provision.
“We are particularly pleased to see that the final rule includes limits on emissions from certain significant industrial sources of NOx, and measures for power plants that would adjust the program’s allowance budgets based on changes in the power sector, prevent excessive accumulation of banked emission allowances, and create strong incentives for large coal units to run controls through a backstop emissions limit,” Hashimoto added. “While we would like to see the scope of the rule expanded and the timeline for implementation accelerated, we strongly support this rule because it has significant potential to reduce emissions and improve air quality for downwind and frontline communities.”
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. Visit catf.us and follow @cleanaircatf.