For decades, Connecticut public officials have been strong proponents of federal anti-pollution legislation, citing evidence that pollutants from the Midwest – especially from big power plants – drift eastward and end up in Connecticut. So it’s no surprise that Gov. Dannel Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee are all over this U.S. Supreme Court ruling that seems to benefit “downwind states.”
Here’s a joint press release from the governor’s office, the AG’s office and DEEP:
Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Energy & Environmental Commissioner Robert Klee today praised a U.S. Supreme Court decision that upholds the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to control interstate air pollution and assist downwind states – like Connecticut – in achieving air quality standards.
In 2011, EPA finalized the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which requires significant reductions in nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides and set the stage for further nitrogen oxide reductions with the new ozone standard, the precursor pollutants of ozone and fine particulate matter, in states that contribute to high or unacceptable air pollution levels in downwind states. The rule was challenged by power plant owners and a group of Midwestern and Southern states.
While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the rule in 2012, the Supreme Court today reversed that decision, validating CSAPR and finding EPA within its authority to immediately address emissions from upwind states.
“I am pleased the court found what we’ve always known—that upwind states need to be held accountable for their emissions, which significantly impact Connecticut,” said Governor Malloy. “While this court decision is a step in the right direction, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule it upheld will not do enough to prevent upwind states from sending their air pollution our way.”
Governor Malloy said, “Either upwind states need to be ‘good neighbors’ and further reduce air pollution that impacts Connecticut– or the EPA must take additional action to require them to do so. We joined with seven other Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states in December in sending a petition to EPA seeking to accomplish that goal.”
“This decision is critically important in that it confirms EPA’s authority to regulate the pollution that is carried by the wind into our state from upwind states,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “The federal Clean Air Act was enacted to make sure all states worked together toward the goal of improving our nation’s air quality and the health of our citizens. Connecticut adopted stringent air pollution laws, but pollution does not stop at state borders. We have been trying for more than 17 years to get upwind states to comply with federal law, and while there is much more to do, this decision makes it possible for EPA to address what we know is a problem.”
“For far too long Connecticut has been burdened by air pollution carried here from other states” said Commissioner Klee. “This ruling will enable EPA to move forward with a transport rule and require ‘good neighbor ‘emissions reductions so Connecticut citizens can breathe clean air.”
In issuing the CSAPR, the EPA determined that pollution sources in 27 states “contribute significantly” to the inability of many areas in downwind states to meet or maintain compliance with federal air quality standards on ozone and particulates. The rule specifically identifies Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland as downwind areas affected by the pollutants emitted by sources in upwind states.
Connecticut was one of nine states, five cities – including the City of Bridgeport – and two public officials that intervened in the court action to support EPA and the CSAPR. The states argued that under the Clean Air Act the EPA had the power to impose restrictions on pollution transport and to hold states accountable for pollution that has damaging impacts on other states.