- The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has petitioned federal regulators for a failure to address ozone pollution coming from upwind states, and is targeting action from sources in nine states.
- The state is petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require power plants and large industrial sources to reduce their contribution of pollution impacting New York.
- This is an ongoing fight for New York, which along with Connecticut is suing the EPA, claiming the agency has ignored Clean Air Act requirements to curb pollution from upwind sates.
New York is continuing its battle for cleaner air and is now entreating the EPA to address polluters in nine states.
According to the DEC, Section 126 of the Clean Air Act allows a state to petition the EPA for a finding that sources or groups of sources in other states "contribute to a state's inability to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)." The agency says that in the last two decades, New York has reduced nitrogen oxide emissions from its own power plants nearly 90%, but upwind states are continuing to cause elevated levels of ozone.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the filing came at the direction of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), and asks federal regulators to require emissions sources in upwind states "to do their fair share."
New York has previously taken several actions to try and compel federal regulators to address the situation. New York and Connecticut earlier this year filed a lawsuit claiming the federal government has been ignoring Clean Air Act requirements to curb smog pollution from upwind states.
In August 2015, the EPA concluded that 24 states had failed to produce adequate pollution reduction plans, including five states upwind from New York and four states upwind from Connecticut. However, the lawsuit claims EPA missed a two-year deadline to act on those findings.
Last year, New York led eight Northeastern states in suing the EPA for denying a petition they submitted in 2013 that would have added eight Midwestern states and part of another to the EPA's Ozone Transport Region, which would require them to take more action to reduce cross-state pollution that causes ground-level ozone.
The Clean Air Act requires New York to comply with NAAQS, and the EPA has designated the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long lsland, NY-NJ-CT area as nonattainment under 2008 standards for ozone. The federal agency has also indicated that it plans to designate New York as nonattainment with the 2015 ozone standards. According to the DEC, Chautauqua and Erie Counties in western New York are "on the cusp of exceeding the 2015 NAAQS."
EPA will need to make a determination on New York's petition within 60 days of receipt. If the EPA makes the finding New York requests, DEC says that then each identified upwind source must shut down within three months, "or operate in accordance with limits established by EPA to prevent its significant contribution."