Wednesday, December 11, 2013
No one in Maine appeared pleased after a federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s cross-state air pollution rule – a rule people in this state said was designed to protect the air Mainers breathe from being polluted by coal-fired plants in the Midwest.
“Today’s court ruling is a tremendous setback for the health of residents across our region, especially kids and seniors,” said Jeff Seyler, President and Chief Executive Officer for the American Lung Association’s Northeast Region. “It puts polluters before the public’s health.”
The EPA developed the cross-state air pollution rule to reduce harmful emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen from power plants. The rule was scheduled to take effect in January but was put on hold to allow the courts to decide the matter.
“Maine is especially dependent on a strong clean air act because of our location. All this (ruling) does is maximize their ability to pollute at our expense,” said Ed Miller, the Lung Association’s Vice President for Public Policy in Maine. “It’s the jet stream. We are the tail pipe of the United States’ exhaust system. All the air from the South and the West blows into Maine.”
Miller said the Clean Air Act has been under attack in Washington. An effort to void the cross-state air pollution rule was defeated by the U.S. Senate earlier this year with Maine’s two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, voting to retain the rule.
“Located at the end of our nation’s air pollution tailpipe, Maine is on the receiving end of pollution emissions from other states,” said Kevin Kelley, Collins’ spokesman. “Senator Collins has consistently supported efforts to address smog and particulate matter pollution across state lines by reducing emissions of soot and ozone.”
Kelley said that Collins hopes that the cross-state rule can be reworked and preserved in some form.
Judy Berk, spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said her agency will petition the EPA to contest the lower court ruling.
“We have a lot to gain from this and everything to lose,” Berk said.