EPA wants stronger ‘good neighbor’ air rule for states

The Obama administration is seeking to crack down further on air pollution that cross state borders and makes it harder for states to comply with regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally proposed Tuesday to update its “good neighbor” rule to take into account nitrogen oxide emissions that affect states’ compliance with 2008 ozone pollution limits.

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“This update will help protect the health and lives of millions of Americans by reducing exposure to ozone pollution, which is linked to serious public health effects including reduced lung function, asthma, emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and early death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes,” EPA head Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Critics accuse Interior's top lawyer of misleading Congress | Boaty McBoatface makes key climate change discovery | Outrage over Trump's order to trim science advisory panels Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage Overnight Energy: Trump order to trim science panels sparks outrage | Greens ask watchdog to investigate Interior's records policies | EPA to allow use of pesticide harmful to bees MORE said in a statement.

“The proposed updates support states’ obligation to address air pollution that is carried across state lines,” she said.

The rule would affect 23 Eastern states whose nitrogen oxide emissions blow into other states and cause increase ozone levels, which are linked to respiratory ailments.

The update, taken with other measures, means a drop of about 30 percent of nitrogen oxides levels in 2017 compared with 2014. The EPA is expecting $1.2 billion in benefits at a $93 million cost.

The regulation is part of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, made final in 2011.

Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, welcomed the proposal from the EPA, but said it is not enough, since it relies only on the 2008 ozone standard, not the new ozone rule put in place this year.

“So EPA must do more in the future to help downwind states meet the new ozone standard set earlier this year,” he said. “Anything less than that will fail to adequately protect public health.”