EPA Wants to Refuse New York’s Request for Help with Cross-State Air Pollution

Decision Could Put the Health of Millions at Risk

May 8, 2019
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – May 7, 2019) The Trump administration has revealed that it wants to deny the state of New York’s request for help with pollution that blows across its borders – a decision that could leave millions of people at risk from smog.

New York submitted a petition to EPA in March of 2018 for help under the Good Neighbor provisions of the Clean Air Act. Tonight EPA announced that it is proposing to deny that petition.

“Denying this petition flouts EPA’s duty to protect New Yorkers, and all Americans in downwind states from the unhealthy pollution that invades their airspace,” said EDF senior attorney Graham McCahan. “EDF is deeply concerned about the harm this will cause to New Yorkers’ health, and we plan to vigorously oppose EPA’s proposal.”

The Clean Air Act obligates EPA to safeguard downwind states against smog-forming pollution from coal-fired power plants in upwind states. Those obligations are described in what is commonly called the Good Neighbor provisions of the Clean Air Act.

States that are working to reduce smog are often undermined by the dirtier air that blows across their borders from coal plants in upwind states. That dangerous smokestack pollution is harmful to the health of families and communities in the downwind states, as well as those who live in the shadows of the coal plants.

Smog is linked to premature deaths, hospitalizations, asthma attacks and long-term lung damage.

New York asked EPA to find that emissions from a group of hundreds of sources in nine states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia) are significantly interfering with the state’s ability to meet our national health-based smog standards. EPA is now proposing to refuse that request.

EPA will now accept public comment through July 15 on its proposal to refuse New York’s petition. A public hearing is planned for June 11 in Washington, D.C.

Trump’s EPA has also denied requests from Maryland and Delaware for help with dangerous border-crossing pollution. Both states have gone to court over those decisions. EDF is part of a coalition of health, environmental and community groups that has joined that lawsuit in support of the states.

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