EPA Finalizes Air Pollution Transport Rule

The Environmental Counselor, Vol. 276 pp.6

August 2011

By Kyle Danish and Henry Stern

On July 6, 2011, exactly one year after proposing a replacement for the vacated Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the “agency”) finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR)—a national regulatory framework for reducing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from 1,081 power plants in 27 “upwind” states in the eastern United States.  According to EPA emissions inventories and air quality modeling, SO2 and NOx emissions from power plants in these upwind states significantly contribute to nonattainment with, or impair maintenance of, certain National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in “downwind” states. The Clean Air Act requires states to take action to mitigate such cross-border air pollution.

At the same time that it finalized the CSAPR (which was titled the “Clean Air Transport Rule” in the proposed rule), EPA also issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would subject an additional six states to seasonal ozone reduction requirements under the rule.

The CSAPR is one component of a suite of impending EPA regulations affecting the power sector. Within the next two years, the agency is expected to finalize additional rules addressing emissions of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases; environmental impacts of cooling water intake structures; and disposal of coal combustion residuals. In addition, EPA is in the process of updating the NAAQS for ozone and PM2.5, which is likely to lead to additional rules to address pollution transport.

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