Leading Multi-State Coalition, A.G. Schneiderman Urges Federal Court To Uphold Interstate Air Pollution Rule

States Support EPA Action To Limit The Interstate Transport Of Air Pollution That Harms Public Health And The Environment

NEW YORK- In arguments today before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., a coalition of states -- led by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman -- urged the court to uphold the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that will limit the interstate transport of air pollution that harms New Yorkers’ environment and health. The rule prohibits emissions in one state from significantly contributing to a downwind state's inability to meet federal air quality standards established to protect public health for two harmful pollutants: fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5 and ozone. In addition to New York, the state coalition supporting the rule includes Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont. The states are joined by New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, the District of Columbia, Baltimore, and Bridgeport, CT.

By 2014, the rule is expected to reduce emissions that contribute to smog, asthma and acid rain by millions of tons per year, resulting in up to 2,000 fewer premature deaths each year in New York alone.

"For too long, New York and other states have been harmed by upwind smokestack pollution. It is critical that strong rules protecting the air we breathe are both upheld and enforced," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "The transport of this kind of air pollution into our state makes it exceedingly difficult for New York to meet federal air quality standards intended to protect public health, resulting in undue hardship for people suffering from asthma and other health conditions. My office stands ready and willing to fight for our ability to maintain healthy air with the reasonable assurance that our efforts won't be undercut by out-of-state polluters." 

For many years, New York and other states in the coalition have borne the brunt of air pollution from power plants in upwind states. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in July of 2011, establishes emissions allowance trading programs for 27 states that significantly contribute to attainment or maintenance problems for ozone and fine particulate matter in downwind states The rule requires fossil fuel-fired electric generating units in the upwind states to significantly reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollutants, which are fine particles that, in the case of NOx, also contribute to the formation of ozone. By 2014, EPA estimates that this rule and other state and federal actions will reduce power plant SO2 emissions by 73 percent and NOx emissions by 54 percent from 2005 levels.

These emissions reductions will translate into significant air quality benefits for New Yorkers. For example, EPA determined that by 2014 the Cross-State Rule will reduce annual SO2 emissions from electric generating units in Pennsylvania, one of the largest contributors to New York’s air quality compliance and acid rain problems, by 78 percent.

In addition to defending the Cross-State Rule,  the New York Attorney General’s office has taken a number of steps in recent years to reduce emissions from  both in-state and out-of-state sources of air pollution, including bringing enforcement cases under the Clean Air Act against power plants and other emitters. These cases have led to substantial reductions in harmful pollutants impacting New Yorkers’ health and environment.

New YorkAssistant Solicitor General Simon Heller presented today’s argument. On the brief were Deputy Solicitor General Cecelia Chang, and Assistant Attorneys General Andrew G. Frank and Michael J. Myers from the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, all under the supervision of Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood and Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic.

Further information about the Cross State Air Pollution Rule can be found at: www.epa.gov/crossstaterule/

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