The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a rule that aims to reduce smog pollution from 12 states that can cross state lines, it announced late Monday.
The rule will require additional controls for nitrogen oxides, which can form smog or ozone pollution, on power plants in the dozen states.
It follows a 2019 court decision requiring the agency to take additional action to prevent downwind states from being impacted by their neighbors’ pollution.
The rule was first proposed in October under the Trump administration, but was finalized this year, making it among the first environmental actions the Biden administration has carried out.
“The action we are taking today will not only help states meet their clean air obligations, but, more importantly, deliver cleaner, healthier air to millions of Americans starting this summer,” EPA Administrator Michael ReganMichael ReganOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden officials announce clean energy plans EPA to assess health impacts of leaded aircraft fuel Biden administration calls on agencies to better guard against political influence on science MORE said in a statement.
The agency said it expects to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 17,000 tons starting this year. Exposure to these types of pollutants have been linked to lung issues including asthma attacks.
While advocates characterized the rule as a positive step, some said they wished the Biden administration had worked toward more significant reductions.
“They could have required greater reductions in ... the emissions that create ozone,” said Kathleen Riley, an attorney with Earthjustice.
Riley also took issue with a provision that allows states to buy credits from others that make more progress on reducing emissions, saying this can create pollution “hot spots” for the states that don’t sufficiently reduce pollution.
“We’ve seen how relatively unrestricted emissions credit trading can create those pollution hot spots and we think that emissions credits trading in the future has to be restricted to protect overburdened communities,” she said.
The rule will impact emissions from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.