For Immediate Release
December 9, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC - Continuing the state’s efforts to advance clean air policies that are critical for the health and quality of life of all Granite Staters, Governor Maggie Hassan announced today that New Hampshire has joined with seven Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States in petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require upwind states to reduce air pollution generated within their borders, which causes asthma, respiratory disease, and other public health problems downwind.
"For the people of New Hampshire to live the healthy, productive lives that they deserve, our air needs to be as clean as possible," Governor Hassan said. "Unfortunately, too often, air pollution blows into our state from areas of the country that haven’t undertaken all of the clean air measures that we have in New Hampshire. It is unacceptable for our citizens to suffer from poor air quality because of the inaction of upwind states, and this petition will encourage the EPA to hold those states accountable."
The multi-state action is aimed at requiring nine upwind states - Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia - to reduce air pollution emissions that are carried by prevailing winds and contribute to the formation of ozone in downwind states, including New Hampshire.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.
"Even if the people of New Hampshire took every car off the road, we would, at best, reduce ozone by only three percent on bad air days," Governor Hassan continued. "And on those bad air days, New Hampshire receives more than 95 percent of its air pollution from upwind states."
The petition cites decades of inaction by the upwind states during which time the eight Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states have spent tens of billions of dollars to reduce their own air emissions.The petition asks the EPA to require the nine upwind states to join the petitioning states 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.
"Our experience in New Hampshire is that the OTR process is working to improve air quality," Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack said. "But now it's time to expand the OTR so that the same conscientious decisions that were made to reduce the air pollution generated within our borders will likewise be made in the states farther upwind of us."
States filing the petition - all current members of the OTR - are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Under Section 176A of the federal Clean Air Act, states can petition the EPA to add any state to an air quality region such as the OTR if there is reason to believe that it is the source of pollution causing violations of air quality standards elsewhere.The EPA Administrator is required to approve or disapprove such a petition within 18 months.
Downwind states, such as New Hampshire, have aggressively reduced air pollution emissions, and as a result the air in these states is significantly cleaner than it was 30 years ago, but there are still times when ozone reaches unhealthy levels.On these days, more than 95 percent of that ozone originates in upwind states.
Industries and electric power plants in downwind states have already invested heavily in pollution-control technologies, and if additional emissions reductions were required from states like New Hampshire, they would come from their smaller sources at greater cost.The cost of removing an additional ton of pollution in downwind states (including New Hampshire) 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.
For more information on the petition, visit www.ct.gov/deep/176aPetition.
How Ozone is Formed
Ground level or "bad" ozone is created when two types of air pollutants - nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) - react in the presence of sunlight and warm temperatures.These air pollutants are generated from industrial facilities and electric power plants, motor vehicle exhaust, and gasoline vapors.Air pollution from upwind states is transported into the Ozone Transport Region on prevailing westerly winds from the Ohio River Valley and from the southwest along the Interstate-95 urban corridor that extends north from Washington D.C.