Leahy: Vermonters And Residents Of Other Downwind States Will Breathe Easier Under New EPA Rule On Cross-State Air Pollution

Cutting Drift-Over Smog Will Mean Fewer Deaths And Cleaner Air For All

(THURSDAY, July 7) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) hailed a major new rule targeting cross-state air pollution and cleaning Vermont’s air that has been in the works for more than 20 years.  Leahy said the release Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a final Cross-State Air Pollution Rule “goes directly to the distant sources of pollution that have long bedeviled clean air strategies in Vermont, New England and other areas of the country.  This will substantially reduce the wayward drift from dirty old coal-fired power plants that have been one of the thorniest problems in cleaning the air we breathe.”

The rule effectively replaces the 2005 Bush Administration Clean Air Interstate Rule, which was struck down by the courts. The new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will improve air quality by limiting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, producing as much as $280 billion in health benefits annually. Studies conducted in the course of drafting the final rule suggest that the decreased levels of smog and pollution could prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths each year starting in 2014 and could benefit the economy by ending the need for 1.8 million sick days each year.  The rule requires 27 states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that cross state lines and that contribute to ozone and fine-particle pollution in downwind states like Vermont.

Leahy said, “Solid results like these are what the Clean Air Act was meant to accomplish.  For downwind states like Vermont that have taken firm steps to responsibly reduce air and water pollution, cross-state pollution has long been a particularly destructive and frustrating obstacle.  These new steps will improve our quality of life and benefit the health of all Vermonters.”

Leahy has long championed the Clean Air Act and efforts to reduce the cross-state air pollution that drifts into Vermont. To read Senator Leahy’s full statement on the new rule, please click here.

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