U.S. EPA Issues New Rule to Curb Interstate Air Pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 7 finalized a new rule aimed at reducing interstate air pollution across the eastern half of the country. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) requires reductions in power plant emissions in 27 states that cause or contribute to ozone and/or fine particulate pollution in other states.

The development of the CSAPR required EPA to analyze a bewildering array of linkages between sources and downwind states in which the same state could be both a source and a receptor. New Jersey, for example, is affected by particulate emissions from Pennsylvania, but also contributes to ozone levels in Connecticut. The new rule replaces the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule, which was the subject of a 2008 court decision that left the old rule in place but, because of its many flaws, required EPA to replace it with a new rule implementing the Clean Air Act’s requirements regarding interstate air pollution.

The CSAPR will require reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions as early as January 1, 2012 and nitrogen oxide emissions by May 1, 2012. By 2014, it is anticipated that sulfur dioxide emissions will be reduced by 74% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 54% from 2005 levels in the affected region. According to EPA, the CSAPR will prevent over 13,000 premature deaths each year, at a cost that will be dwarfed by the benefits of the rule.

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