Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

EPA Rejects States' Health Concerns Over Upwind Coal Air Pollution

Health + Wellness
Maryland and Delaware petitioned the EPA to reduce emissions from upwind coal plants like the Pocahontas coal plant in West Virginia. Magnolia677 / CC BY-SA 3.0

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice Friday denying petitions by the states of Delaware and Maryland for it to recognize that upwind state pollution sources are interfering with their ability to meet ozone standards.

The states had used a provision of the Clean Air Act to petition for reduced nitrogen oxide emissions from coal plants in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, but the EPA found that there wasn't enough evidence that the plants were contributing to elevated ozone levels in the downwind states, InsideClimateNews reported.


"The 111-page notice of denial from the agency shows that Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, is following in the fossil fuel-friendly policy direction set by his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, while being more cautious to spell out the agency's legal reasoning," InsideClimateNews reporter Marianne Lavelle wrote.

Maryland's Attorney General Brian Frosh said Monday that the state would appeal the EPA's decision, The Associated Press reported.

"We intend to appeal EPA's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, so that Marylanders do not have to continue suffering the consequences of other states' pollution," Frosh said.

The petition was first filed in 2016 and asked the EPA to ensure 36 coal plants in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia run equipment they already had to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

Maryland voiced concern about the health of its citizens and environment.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) said nitrogen oxide contributed to algae blooms and dead zones in the bay.

"This is yet another example of EPA putting big business above human health and the environment," CBF Vice President of Litigation Jon Mueller said. "The agency is making it more difficult to achieve Bay clean-up goals by failing to limit interstate air pollution."

Nitrogen oxide helps to form smog, which is a major public health risk linked to early deaths and illnesses like asthma, InsideClimateNews pointed out.

"EPA's irresponsible decision to deny these petitions will cause unnecessary risk to the health of millions of Americans," Environmental Defense Fund senior attorney Graham McCahan, who has helped with Maryland's case, told InsideClimateNews.

Delaware, meanwhile, had filed four petitions asking the EPA to address pollution from plants in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

For example, it wrote that Brunner Island in Pennsylvania had not installed any equipment to mitigate nitrogen oxide pollution after combustion.

The EPA said in its denial that Brunner Island would switch to burning natural gas, even though it won't phase out coal entirely till 2028.

The EPA had delayed responding to these and similar petitions by other states for months, which judges across the country have ruled illegal. A federal judge in Maryland ruled that the EPA had to act on Maryland's petition June 13.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Marco Bottigelli / Moment / Getty Images

By James Shulmeister

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Read More Show Less
Luxy Images / Getty Images

By Jo Harper

Investment in U.S. offshore wind projects are set to hit $78 billion (€69 billion) this decade, in contrast with an estimated $82 billion for U.S. offshore oil and gasoline projects, Wood Mackenzie data shows. This would be a remarkable feat only four years after the first offshore wind plant — the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island — started operating in U.S. waters.

Read More Show Less
Giacomo Berardi / Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the strengths and limitations of globalization. The crisis has made people aware of how industrialized food production can be, and just how far food can travel to get to the local supermarket. There are many benefits to this system, including low prices for consumers and larger, even global, markets for producers. But there are also costs — to the environment, workers, small farmers and to a region or individual nation's food security.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Joe Leech

The human body comprises around 60% water.

It's commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less