EPA threatens Pa. over pollution rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is threatening to sanction Pennsylvania unless it complies with a three-year-old air pollution rule.

The EPA on Monday said Pennsylvania is the only state that has not complied with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards that federal regulators set for lead.

Pennsylvania was supposed to develop an attainment plan for reducing the amount of lead in the air in three areas of the state, including Berks county, Beaver county, and the Lower Beaver Valley, but the state missed a 2012 deadline.

The EPA put it on notice Monday.

"This action simply starts a ‘clock' that will not result in sanctions for 18 months, and which Pennsylvania may avoid by {complying with) the EPA," the agency wrote in the Federal Register.

The EPA reduced the level of lead that states are allowed to have in their air by 90 percent in October 2008, and in November 2010 it identified 16 areas around the country, including the three in Pennsylvania, that did not meet the new standards.

The agency gave those areas 18 months to develop a plan for compliance. Pennsylvania was the only state that has still not complied with the rules, after missing the June 30, 2012 deadline.

The air pollution standards require these areas to develop a plan to reduce the level of lead. The plan must establish control measures, emissions reductions, contingency plans, and demonstrate that it can help the state comply with the agency's rules.

"Most states with lead non-attainment areas designated in 2010 have (complied) addressing these requirements," the agency wrote. "However, one state, Pennsylvania, has not yet (complied)."

The EPA said it would issue fines and develop its own attainment plan for Pennsylvania if the state fails to take action.