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By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON Dec 9 Eight Northeastern and
mid-Atlantic governors on Monday petitioned the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to require "upwind" states in
the Midwest and South to curb ozone-forming pollution from their
power plants, which they say travels downwind and poses health
risks to their citizens.
They want the EPA to force nine states - Illinois, Indiana,
Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia
and West Virginia - to regulate the emissions that cross into
their borders through prevailing winds and contribute to higher
ozone levels to the north and east of the upwind states.
The move comes just ahead of a closely watched Supreme Court
review of an earlier appeals court rejection of the EPA's
Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
The governors, led by Delaware governor Jack Markell, said
the upwind states had failed for decades to install the
technology needed to contain emissions of organic compounds
(VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which cause asthma and other
respiratory diseases and contribute to as much as 98 percent of
the ozone air pollution problems in their own states.
The petition asks the EPA to require the upwind states to
join them in an "Ozone Transport Region," which under the
federal Clean Air Act would force actions to limit air pollution
consistent with the efforts of the "downwind" states.
Under that kind of pact, the Midwestern states would need to
install what are known as best available control technologies to
capture the emissions.
Besides Delaware the states petitioning for the controls are
Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York,
Rhode Island and Vermont.
Markell said downwind states pay the price for other states'
failure to install necessary controls.
"While Delaware's in-state sources are well-controlled with
state-of-the-art technology, this is simply not true of our
upwind neighbors," Markell said.
"Delaware pays more for healthcare resulting from
respiratory illnesses and our industries are forced to do more
than those in the states causing the pollution, and that's
Delaware officials said removing an additional tonne of
pollution in a downwind state, which has already removed most of
these emissions, would cost between $10,000 and $40,000, but
that it would only cost $200 to $500 a tonne in upwind states,
"where even some basic control technologies have not been
In a case being closely monitored by environmentalists and
energy companies, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the
EPA rule that would have set limits on pollution from coal-fired
power plants in 28 states, generally referred to as "upwind
states," that directly affect air quality in other states,
An alliance of industry groups and 15 states, in addition to
energy companies like Southern Co Peabody Energy Corp
and American Electric Power Inc, challenged the
rule, which as a result was never implemented.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit determined in August 2012 that the rule was invalid on
A spokesman for Markell said standards Delaware and the
other northeast states are proposing in the latest petition are
more stringent than the EPA's cross-state rule.
"With a legal cloud hanging over the EPA's attempt to reduce
inter-state pollution, this petition could provide much-needed
relief for breathers in the affected states," said Frank
O'Donnell, president of environmental group Clean Air Watch.
Vickie Patton, general counsel for environmental group
Environmental Defense Fund, said it is also in the interest of
the upwind states to install pollution controls.
"Cleaning up this harmful power plant pollution will mean
healthier, longer lives for children, families and communities
across the Midwest and the millions of people afflicted in
downwind states," she said.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny, Lisa
Von Ahn and Andrea Ricci)