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Air Pollution: Eastern States Point Fingers at Midwestern States

December 10, 2013

Governors and Clean Air ActEveryone get a chance to read the Northeast’s petition to include the Midwest in the OTC (see link)?  A few questions:

1.     Why doesn’t the Ozone Transport Region (OTR) include the whole country—and perhaps Asia?  Why stop at the midwest other than that the OTR might start to replace some of the functions of the EPA?  Seems like all of us are impacting each other.  I guarantee you that once the NAAQS is lowered that all of the Midwestern States in the newly expanded OTR will start yelling at states to the west of them and pointing fingers at oil production and other developments occurring out there.  States to the east of California are already pointing fingers at California as part of the reason for their problem (see for example link).  Five years from now we shouldn’t be surprised if Iowa files a petition to expand the OTR to include South Dakota.  And then South Dakota files a petition to include Wyoming.  And then etc.

2.     Why doesn’t the Clean Air Act include provisions for Western States to get relief from pollution transport?  Western States must not only reduce pollution to improve air in States out east, they also must offset pollution blowing in from Asia (see attached).  Western States will continue to get it from both sides until the Clean Air Act is updated to align responsibility and authority.

3.     Why is our country focused almost exclusively on interstate pollutant transport and pointing fingers at each other?  The United Nations said the following:

 “For North America ground-level O3 concentrations, [. . .] changes in emissions of O3 [ozone] precursors outside the region may be as important as changes within the region.” –2010 United Nation’s Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution Report (see http://www.htap.org/activities/2010_Final_Report.htm)

Time to stop with this system that necessitates all this finger-pointing.  We don’t need to do this anymore (see link and link and link).  Time to transform the SIP process.  We can make it happen.

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