Gov. Malloy and State Officials Urge EPA to Act Favorably on Petition to Control Pollution Caused by Upwind States
State to Offer Testimony in Washington, DC on Thursday in Support of Petition Filed by Nine Northeastern States Addressing Public Health and Economic Inequity Issues Raised by Interstate Transport of Air Pollution
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and other Connecticut officials are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve a petition filed by the State of Connecticut along with eight other neighboring Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to require nine upwind states located in the west and the south to reduce air pollution generated within their borders that is carried to states in the northeast by prevailing winds, causing public health issues for area residents and economic disincentives for the region’s businesses.
The EPA is scheduled hold a hearing in Washington, DC on Thursday at the request of the nine petitioning states, who are urging the agency to accept the Section 176A petition when it issues its final decision.
“The failure of upwind states to make investments needed to operate power plants and industrial facilities in an efficient and lean manner – just as we have in Connecticut and other petitioning states – is exacting a steep price on the health of both the people and economy of my state, along with many other states,” Governor Malloy wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
He continued, “Now is the time to require upwind states to take action. EPA must move to include the petitioned states in the collaborative and efficient OTC process to resolve finally the illegal transport of air pollution in Connecticut. Connecticut is tired of serving as the tailpipe of America.”
“The EPA needs to act favorably on the Section 176A petition to protect the health and well-being of Connecticut residents,” Commissioner Klee wrote in his planned testimony. “For many years, we have been forced to breathe unhealthy air created when ozone pollution is transported from upwind states. Adoption of the federal Clean Air Act was intended to address this issue – but to date, it hasn’t effectively done so. EPA leadership is required to bring upwind and downwind states together to solve this problem, because a small downwind state such as Connecticut can’t do that on its own.”
Background on the Section 176A Petition
The Section 176A petition filed in December 2013 cites decades of inaction by the upwind states during which time Connecticut and the eight other Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states have spent tens of billions of dollars to reduce their own air emissions. The petition seeks long-overdue commitments from the upwind states to protect the health of downwind residents and to level the playing field for businesses – as industries in their states have long benefited from cheap power produced by dirty, uncontrolled coal plants.
The petition asks EPA to require the nine upwind states to join them in what is known as the “Ozone Transport Region” (OTR). Under the federal Clean Air Act, states added to the OTR would have to take actions consistent with the air pollution efforts of the downwind states through use of readily available control technologies and reliance on cleaner fuels to generate power.
States joining Connecticut in filing the petition – all current members of the OTR – include Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Upwind states they are asking the EPA to add to the OTR include Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Additional Support for the Petition
In addition to the Governor’s letter, Commissioner Klee will also present additional letters of support from Commissioner Raul Pino of Connecticut’s Department of Public Health and Commissioner Catherine Smith of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
“Ozone damages lung tissue and causes chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and other respiratory conditions,” Commissioner Pino wrote in his letter. “In Connecticut, children, females, Hispanics, non-Hispanic Blacks, and residents of our state’s five largest cities are disproportionately affected by asthmas. Asthma is the single most avoidable cause of hospitalization, yet is is consistently one of the most common admitting diagnosis in children.”
In her letter, Commissioner Smith, noting that the interstate transport of pollution causes Connecticut to be classified as a “nonattainment” state for air quality, wrote, “Due to Connecticut’s nonattainment status, industries are required to install the most stringent emissions controls in the country when building a plant and have to purchase pollution credits to offset new emissions. This can add significant cost for impact companies. We now need EPA to demonstrate strong leadership and develop a transport remedy that levels the playing field for our companies and economy.”
Background on Interstate Transport of Ozone
The ozone pollution carried to Connecticut causes area residents to suffer from increased asthma attacks, respiratory disease, and other public health problems.
Analysis submitted with the Section 176A petition notes that if the state eliminated all of the “home grown” air pollution, the air in parts of Connecticut would still be dangerously polluted and fail to meet federal standards on many days due to the interstate transport of pollution.
More than 90 percent of ozone levels in southwest Connecticut and more than 80 percent of ozone levels in some remaining parts of the state result from pollution that originates in areas located out of Connecticut’s jurisdiction and control. Readings at Connecticut air monitoring stations consistently show that that air entering Connecticut already exceeds ozone standards on days when quality here fails to meet federal standards.
Connecticut’s industries and electric power plants have invested heavily in pollution control technologies and additional emissions reductions in-state would come from smaller sources at greater cost. The cost of removing an additional ton of pollution here is estimated at between $10,000 to $40,000 – compared to as little as $500 a ton in upwind states, where even some basic control technologies have not been installed.
Interstate transport of pollution contributes significantly to poor air quality in Connecticut, causing the state to be considered a “nonattainment” area. This means business and industries proposing to engage in new activities that create any air emissions are required to spend more on pollution control equipment and must pay costs to purchase offsets. Industries in upwind states – which also benefit from cheap power produced there from “dirty” fuels – do not face similar financial hardships because air quality there has not placed those states in the “nonattainment” category.
Documents related to the Section 176A petition to EPA can be found on DEEP’s website.