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Reprot Verifies Deep Reductions in Emissions of Nitrogen Oxide Due to Northeastern Program

Release Date: 06/27/2003
Contact Information:

David Deegan, 202-564-7839

(06/27/03) EPA, along with the multi-state membership of the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), today released a report showing the continuing success of a market-based emissions trading program for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions in the northeastern United States. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are a key ingredient in the formation of ground level ozone (smog), which can irritate the respiratory tract, impair breathing ability and cause various other respiratory problems. This emissions trading program, called the “Nox Budget Program,” is managed through a unique partnership between federal and state governments. The Ozone Transport Commission was created by Congress as part of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments to better coordinate the efforts of northeastern states in reducing nitrogen oxide emissions, such as helping implement the Nox Budget Program when it began in 1999. During 2002, the fourth year of the program, more than 1,100 sources in nine participating states and the District of Columbia reduced NOx emissions 11 percent below allowable emission levels. NOx emissions are now approximately 60 percent below 1990 levels. The “2002 OTC NOx Budget Program Compliance Report” can be found at: or The EPA's Acid Rain Program has been using a cap and trade emissions reduction strategy nationwide since 1995 to successfully control sulfur dioxide emissions. The OTC NOx Budget Program, however, is the first cap and trade program formed by a group of states and represents the first large-scale application of cap and trade to a problem beyond acid rain. The success of the OTC NOx Budget Program in reducing NOx in the Northeast is an important first step in efforts to reduce ambient ozone levels and supports the use of cap and trade mechanisms to control multiple pollutants over broad regions in the future. Further NOx reductions using the cap and trade mechanism have been proposed under various multi-pollutant legislative proposals, including the Administration’s Clear Skies Act, which would reduce sulfur dioxide, mercury and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants throughout the country.