When soot and other pollution blows away from power plants, the emissions can cause problems for nearby states that are trying to clean up their air. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a regulation that would make it easier for downwind states to met air-quality standards.
"This EPA proposal is a big step in the right direction," said Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch in a statement, who called for deeper reductions. "There is no question we will need further pollution cuts from power plants to meet updated national clean air standards for smog and soot."
The so-called transport rule would impact 31 eastern states and the District of Columbia. By 2014, the rule would reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides—which contribute to smog—by 71% and 52% compared with 2005 levels. The agency estimates that these reductions would result in up to 36,000 fewer premature deaths and $120 billion of health benefits annually, such as preventing acute bronchitis and asthma attacks. The annual cost of compliance, such as upgrading power plants, would be $2.8 billion.
The transport rule replaces a 2005 Bush Administration proposal, called the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR).