Op-Ed in The News Journal today, August 22, in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington yesterday striking down the EPA’s cross-state air pollution rule, saying the agency illegally usurped state authority for air-pollution programs and imposed caps on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide lower than necessary to clean up the air in neighboring states.
Here’s why the Obama Administration should appeal a federal court’s decision to vacate a cross-state anti-pollution guideline: It sends the message that environmental and health hazards can’t or shouldn’t be reined in.
The “Cross-State Air Pollution Rule” would have reduced emissions from dirty power plants in upwind states that contribute more than 90 percent of the air pollution that Delawareans breathe.
“Delaware has already cleaned up all of its power plants but, as a result of the court’s decision, Delawareans will continue to suffer from uncontrolled pollution from upwind states,” said Gov. Jack Markell.
Sen. Tom Carper, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, was mutually disappointed.
This “Good Neighbor” rule – is crucial for securing the long-term health of citizens like those in Delaware. Yet Tuesday’s rulings forces us to live with our neighbors’ “dirty pollutants.” And even worse, we assume the expense of preventing it from crossing our borders.
This is the second time courts have thrown out the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to control interstate air pollution this way.
It’s unclear why the Appeals Court would issue a ruling that implies it’s OK to shirk responsibility for controlling and abetting the spread of an imminent danger within your state’s border. With stringent regulations that reduces dirty emissions from factories, power plants and human behaviors such as smoking, good-player states like Delaware should not be burdened with responsibility for its neighbors’ environmental negligence.
It’s time for a third appeal.
In yesterday’s ruling, the court ordered the agency to continue to enforce a similar rule issued in 2005 until a viable replacement can be issued. The EPA has already begun to do this; however, a different panel of appeals court judges in 2008 ordered the EPA to rework that rule, saying it was too weak. Any future EPA rule on cross-state pollution, “may have minimal regulatory impact” given related requirements from the mercury standard.
Here’s a sure sign that the coal industry’s threats to lay off hundreds of people because of overregulation are empty (they’re going to lay them off instead because natural gas is eating their lunch):
“There will be no layoffs or facilities closures,” Allan Koenig said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “We will continue to face pressure created by other regulations affecting power plants, as well as low power prices in the state.”
Our addiction to fossil fuels continues to hold us hostage to the energy producers, whether they’re domestic or foreign.