- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced yesterday that his state will sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its decision not to require 36 coal-fired power plant units in five upwind states to run their existing air pollution controls more frequently.
- In July, Maryland officials indicated they were considering a lawsuit, after the EPA rejected a request to broaden the roster of states in the region responsible for helping address cross-state pollution. EPA allowed itself a six-month extension to act on the petition, which expired in mid July.
- Maryland estimates that, on some days, up to 70% of its ozone problem originates from emissions in upwind states.
Coal plants impacting Maryland's air quality already have the pollution control technology installed, but are declining to use it.
Jack Lienke, regulatory policy director at the Institute for Policy Integrity, weighed in on the lawsuit. "Maryland is not asking for much here," he said. "It doesn't expect coal plants in surrounding states to install expensive new pollution controls. The plants already have the technology they need. Maryland just wants them to start using that equipment more often, especially during the summer."
“Maryland has made significant progress in improving our air quality in recent years, and that progress is in jeopardy due to a lack of action by the EPA that dates back to the previous administration,” Hogan said in a statement. “We strongly urge the EPA to approve the petition and enforce the air pollution controls, already in place in Maryland, at upwind out-of-state facilities that threaten the health of Maryland citizens and our economy.”
According to Maryland, 36 out-of-state power plant units in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia emit pollution that contributes at times to poor air quality in Maryland.
The Environmental Defense Fund issued a statement supporting the lawsuit, saying the group plans to file legal action in support of Maryland, along with a coalition of other environmental and community organizations.
Maryland is now among a select few states taking legal action against the EPA over the cross-state air rule. In May, Connecticut sued the agency over pollution from a Pennsylvania power plant, and last year six Northeastern states filed a lawsuit to limit pollution from Midwestern coal generators.