Curbing Air Pollution
Water pollution to the Bay comes from a 64,000-square-mile area of land that extends over six states and the District of Columbia. Air pollution is deposited by gravity or washed by rain and carried to our rivers, streams, and the Bay from an area nine times larger—a 570,000-square-mile airshed extending from Ontario to Indiana and North Carolina.
This air pollution, from sources like coal-fired power plants, accounts for one-third of the nitrogen pollution plaguing our waters. And, it forms ozone that can harm human health. CBF's Litigation Team has been working hard to reduce airborne nitrogen pollution.
Nineteen plants in five Chesapeake airshed states—Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky—have pollution control systems but don't always operate them—even on summer days when ozone pollution is most dangerous. The Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish air standards for pollutants endangering human health and requires each state to ensure its air pollution doesn't damage downwind states.
We appreciate CBF's Litigation Team's expertise crafting strategy and legal language to reduce local air pollution drifting from other states.
In November 2016, the Maryland Department of the Environment petitioned EPA to require that those plants fully run their pollution controls every day of the summer ozone season.
EPA failed to respond to the petition. In September 2017, the Maryland Department of the Environment filed suit to compel a response. CBF and six regional and national environmental and public health partners filed suit to support Maryland.
In June of this year, a federal court ruled EPA had failed to comply with the Clean Air Act and ordered a decision. This September, EPA denied Maryland's petition along with four submitted by Delaware. "Once again, EPA is putting big business above human health and the environment," declared CBF's Vice President for Litigation Jon Mueller.
Running pollution controls can produce cleaner air and water. EPA must act to ensure the upwind plants do what is right—and required—under the Clean Air Act.