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New York petitions EPA to protect state's air quality


Tue, Mar 13th 2018 04:10 pm
Petition seeks emissions reductions from power plants & industrial sources in 9 states that 'jeopardize' New York's ability to meet ozone standards
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced New York is petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its "failure to address the movement of ozone from upwind states to downwind states." Specifically, New York is asking that EPA require power plants and large industrial sources in nine upwind states to reduce their contribution of pollution impacting New York. 
"At Gov. Cuomo's direction, New York is aggressively limiting air pollution from multiple sources to protect our communities and the environment. New York is asking the EPA to require these polluters in upwind states to do their fair share and control the air pollution that is impacting our air quality. Without these controls, New Yorkers will suffer not only a public health burden, but will be required to suffer the additional economic burden of forcing further controls on New York-based sources of pollution," Seggos said.
The petition is filed under Section 126 of the Clean Air Act, which allows a state to petition EPA for a finding that sources or groups of sources in other states contribute to a state's inability to meet national ambient air quality standards established by EPA. Since 2000, the DEC said New York has reduced nitrogen oxide emissions from its own power plants nearly 90 percent, but emissions from neighboring states continue to lead to elevated ozone levels in New York. But, the agency noted, ozone levels remain elevated, due in significant part of upwind air pollution.
The Clean Air Act requires New York to comply with the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) established by EPA to protect public health. EPA has designated the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long lsland-New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area as nonattainment with the 2008 NAAQS for ozone, and indicated it plans to designate New York as nonattainment with the 2015 ozone NAAQS. In addition, Chautauqua and Erie counties in Western New York are on the cusp of exceeding the 2015 NAAQS.
Elevated ozone levels in New York are due, in part, to emissions from polluting sources in upwind states. The DEC said the EPA's failure to act is resulting in higher emissions in upwind states and increased air pollution in downwind states, including New York, and has jeopardized the state's ability to attain the federal standard for ozone. Without these controls, the agency added, New York will need to further regulate its already well-controlled sources of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, putting the state and New Yorkers at further economic disadvantage.
Section 126 requires EPA to make a determination on this petition within 60 days of receipt of the petition. If EPA makes the required finding, each identified upwind source must shut down within three months or operate in accordance with limits established by EPA to prevent its significant contribution.

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