- Maryland is preparing to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force action on pollution from coal plants that moves across state borders.
- Earlier this year, the EPA tentatively rejected a request by Maryland and other states to broaden the roster of states in the region responsible for helping address cross-state pollution. The agency gave itself a six-month extension to act on the petition, which expired July 15.
- In a letter to the EPA, Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles singled out five states responsible for nitrogen oxides coming across its borders: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.
For almost a year, Maryland officials have been pressing the federal government to address pollution from neighboring states that it says contributes to the formulation of harmful ground-level ozone.
Last year, the Maryland Department of the Environment indicated 70% of the state's ozone pollution was coming from other states. The EPA gave itself a six-month extension to act on the request, but Grumbles said that expired July 15.
The suit would put Maryland in a handful of states taking legal action against the federal 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 filing to limit pollution from Midwestern coal generators.
EPA told media outlets it does not comment on potential lawsuits. The agency has 60 days to respond before Maryland can file suit.
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was originally proposed in 2011 as part of the Obama administration's efforts to reduce air pollution. EPA originally proposed stronger rules, but a D.C. Circuit Court judge rejected them in 2015.
According to Maryland, on some days 300 tons of NOx are being released in nearby states, which could be avoided by running pollution control technology already in place in a more efficient manner.
In November of last year Maryland environmental officials asked the EPA to force 19 Midwest coal plants to use pollution control technology already installed at the facilities.
The state requested several southern states be added to the Ozone Transport Region to address regional pollution. States Maryland wanted to see added to the OTR included Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and a portion of Virginia.