Defending a Major Interstate Air Pollution Safeguard

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Case Overview

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths each year and provide up to $280 billion in health and environmental benefits by reducing pollution that crosses state lines.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would require power plants in more than two dozen states to clean up nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution that drifts across state borders and contributes to harmful soot (particles) and smog (ozone) pollution in downwind states. According to the EPA, the rule would every year prevent 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits, 19,000 episodes of acute bronchitis, 420,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms, 400,000 episodes of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million days of missed work or school.

The rule was adopted under the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, and that is what the rule requires — that upwind states generating this pollution not foul the air in other states.

The EPA also projects that the rule’s pollution reductions will help protect not just people, but also the natural resources on which we depend, including national and state parks, and ecosystems including the Adirondack lakes and Appalachian streams, coastal waters and estuaries, and forests.

Hazy air covers the eastern United States.
Hazy air covers the large portion of the United States, stretching from the Midwest, to the Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic. Image acquired July 26, 2005. (NASA Earth Observatory)

Case Updates

March 16, 2021 Document

Ozone SIPs Notice of Intent

A large coalition of public health, environmental justice, and conservation groups notified EPA of their intent to sue the agency to compel overdue action on state plans that are failing to control ozone pollution—a necessary step on the path to stronger protections from EPA. Earthjustice submitted the notice on behalf of Air Alliance Houston, Downwinders at Risk, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Appalachian Mountain Club, Earthworks, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Defense Fund....

March 16, 2021 Press Release

EPA’s Interstate Air Pollution Rule Should Be Bolder

More protection still needed for communities breathing smog

October 1, 2019 Document

Close-Out Rule Judgement

These consolidated cases involve a challenge to an Environmental Protection Agency regulation known as the Close-Out Rule. The rule addresses the obligation of upwind states to reduce their contribution of ozone precursors to downwind states, which must attain an ozone pollution standard by certain statutory deadlines.