Eight states blame upwind sources. Agency to revisit emissions targets.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Sept. 24 rule for 22 eastern states to file plans to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions would ostensibly reduce transport of ground-level ozone, or smog, in so-called "nonattainment areas." But eight of these affected states have filed petitions arguing that NOx emissions blowing in from nearby jurisdictions must be controlled before they can comply.
So far, in preliminary statements, the EPA has indicated that at least some of these petitions have merit. The petitions still face a final agency review - and perhaps a day in court as well - but already they appear to have reinvigorated the classic environmental dispute: Upwind vs. Downwind.
The Sept. 24 ruling on state implementation plans, or the SIP call, as it is known, is aimed at reducing NOx emissions in the eastern United States by 1.1 million tons annually, or 28 percent overall by 2007. Although the EPA is allowing individual states to choose which sources will be targeted to reduce emissions, the final rule notes that "utilities and large non-utility point sources would be one of the most likely sources of NOx emissions reductions."
The 23 affected jurisdictions (see table, Affected Jurisdictions, and map, Upwind, Downwind) must submit SIPs to the EPA by September and implement chosen controls by May 1, 2003. Compliance with the state NOx "budgets," which the EPA may revise following a comment period that ends Feb. 22, is expected by Sept. 30, 2007. A "cap-and-trade" program similar to the one in place for sodium dioxide, or SO2, is part of the government's plan.