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Midwest vs. Northeast? EPA's NOx Policy

Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 1999

in the context of the Section 126 petitions." It is Maine's belief, he added, that Congress intended the rulings to be based solely on a source's air quality impacts.

"There's simply no evidence to support the contention that those sources whose emissions cannot be controlled through highly cost-effective control measures do not have a significant contribution," argued Crawford. Maine, however, supports consideration of cost effectiveness as it applies to determining an appropriate remedy, he said.

Concerning a cap-and-trade NOx system, Crawford said that while Maine supports the EPA's proposed program, the state has "reservations concerning substitution of emission reductions from unnamed sources if, in fact, it could lead to reduced emission reductions at the named sources." Such a practice, he suggested, could result in "fewer upwind controls and more transported emissions."

Finally, Crawford urged the EPA to consider attainment of ozone levels and maintenance of clean air under the newer, eight-hour standard. While he noted that Maine continues to use the one-hour standard, Crawford said that it is projecting nonattainment of the eight-hour standard in a number of counties.

"A failure by EPA to take the standard into account would be a gross elevation of form over substance, and would appear completely without justification," stated Crawford.


Midwest, Mining Industry Have Doubts

While many who spoke at the hearing expressed support for the EPA's work to reduce smog, some groups rejected claims of responsibility for ozone problems in petitioning states. Still others criticized the SIP call and proposals as approaches that are flawed, if not illegal.

Regional Interests. In remarks defending regions implicated by petitioning states, a representative of the Midwest Ozone Group questioned the entire premise of the Section 126 proposal, as well as the EPA's role.

David Flannery, an attorney for the MOG, cited the group's contention that the Section 126 proposal is fraught with errors. He added that "EPA seems to be more interested in ¼ advancing its own NOx emission reduction agenda than it is in being an objective decision-maker on the merit of pending petitions.

"The controls which EPA proposes to implement on sources located outside the Northeast Ozone Transport region will have virtually no impact, and certainly no significant impact, on air quality" in petitioning states other than Pennsylvania, said Flannery. And in the case of the Pittsburgh area, he said, "the emission reductions that are being proposed by EPA are much greater than are needed to achieve compliance with the one-hour standard there."

Rather than blaming outside sources, Flannery said, the petitioning states have an obligation to try first to improve air quality from within their own borders: "[T]he Clean Air Act also points to the petitioning states as having the primary responsibility to clean up their own air." If those efforts fail, he said, "then it may be appropriate for those states to turn upwind for additional reductions." But he added that no such conclusion can be reached at this point.

Further, Flannery said, "A review of the tarnished record of meeting the Clean Air Act requirements demonstrates that [the petitioning states] do not