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E-M:/ getting after those upwind pollution sources

Enviro-Mich message from "Dave Dempsey" <davemec@voyager.net>

The release below details a petition filed today by the Attorney 
General of North Carolina with EPA to force reductions in upwind power 
plant pollution from 13 states, including Michigan. Many government 
officials have complained that West Michigan should not be forced to 
undertake "draconian" measures to reduce ozone pollution caused by 
upwind Chicago or Milwaukee, among other places. This petition invokes 
the same logic to call for reductions in pollution in upwind states. 

The petition estimates that Michigan alone could reduce SO2 pollution 
125,061 tons annually and NOx emissions by 113,407 tons if the petition 
is upheld.

	For Immediate Release
Jeff Gleason, Deputy Director (434) 977-4090			
	Thursday, March 18, 2004        				
North Carolina seeks EPA action to clean up power plants across South, 

Move would cut U.S. sulfur dioxide pollution 50%

Raleigh, NC – North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper invoked a 
rarely used section of the Clean Air Act today and filed a petition 
with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to compel the federal 
government to take action in 13 other states to clean up their dirty 
power plants, the leading source of  air pollution that increasingly 
harms the public health and economy of the South.  The move would 
reduce roughly half of the nation’s total sulfur dioxide pollution.   

Every year, some 8,000 people in the South alone die prematurely due to 
exposure to power plant pollution.  According to EPA analysis, North 
Carolina’s petition would eliminate 4.8 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 
or 75 percent, and 1.5 million tons of nitrogen oxides, or 69 percent, 
annually from coal-burning power plants operating in southern and 
midwestern states (see attached chart for state-by-state numbers).   

Under the federal Clean Air Act, Section 126, a state that suffers from 
air pollution coming from other states can petition the EPA to force 
those upwind states to reduce emissions.  In the late 1990s, the state 
of New York and several other states coordinated a series of such 
petitions to successfully target sulfur dioxide emissions from 
Midwestern plants that led to severe acid rain problems in the 
Northeast.  North Carolina is taking action entirely on its own, and is 
the first state to file in the South, one of the regions hardest hit by 
air pollution due largely to coal-burning power plants.  The EPA has 60 
days to respond to North Carolina’s petition.

In 2002, North Carolina passed the Clean Smokestacks Act, which goes 
beyond federal requirements for reducing power plant pollution and is 
considered one of the strongest state air pollution control laws in the 
country.  Nonetheless, North Carolina will not be able to meet federal 
clean air standards due in part to pollution crossing its borders from 
surrounding states, including Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, 
Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, 
Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. 

“Faced with the reversals and rollbacks of air quality rules at the 
federal level, North Carolina chose to lead by example in passing its 
Clean Smokestacks legislation and encouraging upwind states to do the 
same,” said SELC Deputy Director Jeff Gleason.  “With upwind states 
slow to follow its example, North Carolina is once again taking the 
lead to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, demanding 
that EPA force upwind states to reduce pollution.”  SELC is a regional 
organization that has worked for almost two decades at the state and 
national level to clean up coal-fired power plants.

Gleason noted that North Carolina’s action would actually benefit 
people living in the targeted states more than people in North 
Carolina.  States would have to cut roughly three-quarters of their 
current sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, resulting in 
significantly cleaner air in those states.  “North Carolina’s petition 
is a clear opportunity for the 13 targeted states to clean up their own 
smokestacks and protect the health of their citizens.”

Although the EPA is currently proposing a rule to reduce interstate air 
pollution throughout the East, the measure could take several years to 
pass, and doesn’t require full reductions until 2015, Gleason said.  
Under Section 126, the 13 states targeted by North Carolina’s petition 
would have three years to reduce power plant pollution.  “We need more 
reductions, faster.  It’s not a question of money or technology – it’s 
a matter of life and death.” 

Power plants are  the single largest source of dirty air in the South, 
and the U.S.  In addition to causing approximately 8,000 premature 
deaths in the South every year, power plant pollution triggers some 
167,500 asthma attacks, and is responsible for almost 1.5 million work 
days lost annually due to asthma attacks and other respiratory problems 
resulting from this exposure.  Health advisories are often issued in  
the two most-vested national parks in the country – the Shenandoah and 
Great Smoky Mountains – because the air is unhealthy to breathe.  
EPA estimates that reducing power plant pollution in the East would 
yield $82.4 billion annually in health benefits, and an additional $1.4 
billion every year in economic benefits from improved visibility in the 
two national parks and eight “Class I” wilderness areas in the Southern 
Appalachians, compared to an annual cost of $4 billion. Power plant 
pollution also takes a heavy toll on the region’s agricultural sector, 
weakens forest ecosystems and contributes to the decline of water 
quality in trout streams and estuaries, including the Chesapeake Bay, 

# # #

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