The following is a press release from the Connecticut Governor's Office:
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced that Connecticut is sending a powerful message to upwind states: Stop dumping your air pollution on us—it’s time to clean up your act.
To address this issue, the Governor says Connecticut is joining a multi-state action to require upwind states to our south and west to reduce pollution that is carried here by prevailing winds—a move aimed at better protecting the health of our residents and leveling the playing field for our businesses.
“Connecticut is tired of serving as the tailpipe of America,” Malloy said. “We’re paying a steep public health and economic price for the failure of upwind states to make investments needed to operate power plants and industrial facilities in a clean and efficient manner. Now is the ideal time to get the upwind polluters to take action.”
The multi-state action is aimed at requiring nine upwind states to be good neighbors by reducing their air pollution 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 cites decades of inaction by the upwind states during which time Connecticut and the seven other Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states have spent tens of billions of dollars to reduce their own air emissions. 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 – are:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- Rhode Island
Upwind states they are asking EPA to add to the OTR are:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
“For far too long, prevailing wind patterns have carried pollution generated elsewhere across our borders and into our lives and lungs,” Malloy said. “If we eliminated all of our ‘home grown’ air pollution, the air in parts of Connecticut would still be dangerously polluted and fail to meet federal standards—because of the inter-state transport of pollution.”
Pin-Pointing the Air Pollution
More than 90% of ozone levels in southwest Connecticut and more than 80% 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. In 2013, for instance, monitoring equipment showed that air entering Connecticut already exceeded ozone standards on 16 of the 18 days when air quality here failed 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.
CT's Environmental Leader: 'Do What's Right'
“Over the last several decades Connecticut has done more than its fair share to reduce our pollution levels and we have most recently expanded our horizons to include energy efficiency, green energy, and zero emissions vehicles as new ways to improve both our environment and our economy,” Commissioner Daniel C. Esty of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said. “Yet, at the same time, upwind states have failed to take even the most basic steps that we took long ago. They now have the opportunity to step up and do what’s right.”
The petition filed by the six states is authorized by Section 176A of the federal Clean Air Act, which permits states to petition the EPA to add any state to an air quality region such as the OTR if there is reason to believe it is the source of pollution causing violations of air quality standards elsewhere. The EPA Administrator is required to approve or disapprove of such a petition within 18 months.
The CT Attorney General's Take
“I applaud the Governor for filing this petition and strongly believe the EPA should approve it. Both the science and the law are clear. Air pollution from these nine states is migrating to Connecticut, causing potential health problems and costs here. The EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to address the problem, as it should have done decades ago,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said.
“Asthma rates in our state remain a significant concern despite actions to control our own in-state air pollution sources, and Connecticut has long been forced to cope with the downwind emissions of other states. The EPA should ensure that these states take responsibility for their pollution, rather than passing the buck to Connecticut. Not only is this fair, it is cost effective–it imposes far more costs on Connecticut’s economy to deal with this problem here than it would to address it at the source of the pollution.”
Documents related to today’s petition to the EPA can be found on DEEP’s website.