EPA Proposes Updates to Life-Saving Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Improvements Will Mean Less Smog, Healthier Air for Downwind States

November 17, 2015
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – November 17, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed updates to its historic Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in order to provide healthier air for hundreds of millions of Americans across the Eastern U.S.

“The Cross-State Air Pollution is protecting 240 million Americans from dangerous pollution that’s linked to asthma attacks, heart and lung diseases, and even early death,” said EDF Senior Attorney Graham McCahan. “The proposed updates are the common sense, and achievable, next step to reduce dangerous pollution further and provide cleaner, healthier air for American families.” 

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was created under the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, and finalized in 2011. The rule reduces sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants across the eastern states. Those emissions, and the resulting particulate pollution and ozone — more commonly known as soot and smog — drift across the borders of those states and contribute to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels of pollution in downwind states. The Supreme Court upheld the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in April of 2014.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was designed to help states meet the 1997 health-based standards for smog pollution. Today’s proposed updates will strengthen these clean air protections, and help states achieve the 2008 health-based smog standard to provide cleaner, healthier air for millions of Americans. 

The proposed updates identify cuts in power plant emissions in 23 states that can be achieved by 2017 using existing, cost-effective technology. EPA estimates the proposed updates will:

    • Reduce smog-forming pollution by 85,000 tons by 2017
    • Contribute to an expected 30 percent reduction in smog-forming pollution from 2014 to 2017
    • Provide annual benefits of up to $1.2 billion dollars – about 13 times more than the cost
    • Provide American families with $13 in health benefits for every dollar invested

The proposed updates to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will soon be published in the Federal Register, followed by a 45 day public comment period, and a public hearing in Washington D.C. on December 17.

You can read more about the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on EDF’s website.

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.