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EPA Announces Landmark Clean Air Interstate Rule - Major Step Forward in Eliminating 'Smog' Days in New England

Release Date: 03/10/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: March 10, 2005; Release # sr050306

BOSTON - Acting Administrator Steve Johnson today signed the final Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), a rule that will ensure that Americans continue to breathe cleaner air by dramatically reducing air pollution that moves across state boundaries in 28 eastern states -- including Connecticut and Massachusetts. When fully implemented, pollution in the eastern part of the United States will be dramatically reduced and "smog days" in New England should be a thing of the past.

"CAIR will result in the largest pollution reductions and health benefits of any air rule in more than a decade," said Acting EPA Administrator Steve Johnson. "The action we are taking will require all 28 states to be good neighbors, helping states downwind by controlling airborne emissions at their source."

CAIR will permanently cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the eastern United States. When fully implemented, CAIR will reduce SO2 emissions in 28 eastern states and the District of Columbia by over 70 percent and NOx emissions by over 60 percent from 2003 levels. This will result in the largest health benefits of any EPA air rule in more than a decade -- amounting to savings of almost $100 billion per year in health care costs by 2015, and preventing 17,000 premature mortalities; 1.7 million lost work days; and 500,000 lost school days, annually.

CAIR requires that the 28 states that play a large role in polluting the air of their downwind neighbors, control the pollution that moves across state boundaries. CAIR will help over 450 counties in the eastern United States meet EPA's protective air quality standards for ozone and fine particles.

The rule has profound regional impacts. CAIR is expected to bring almost all of New England into compliance with the nation's smog standard within the next five years. Most of New England's most populated areas are currently out of compliance with the ozone standard, including all of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and parts of Maine and New Hampshire. The region had 13 smog-alert days last summer, but had 43 smog-exceedance days in 2002 -- when more typical hot summer weather occurred.

"This action, together with other air quality regulations previously adopted, ensures dramatic air quality improvements in New England and the rest of the country over the next decade," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "The benefits of this rule to New England's air quality are enormous."

CAIR is an extremely cost effective rule, with health and environmental benefits valued at more than 25 times the cost of compliance by 2015. The rule creates one of the largest investments ever in clean air technology, requiring nearly $17 billion of investment in pollution controls.

CAIR will mandate the largest reduction in air pollution since the reductions set by the Acid Rain Program under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Under CAIR, states will achieve the required emissions reductions using one of two options for compliance: 1) require power plants to participate in an EPA-administered interstate cap and trade system that caps emissions in two stages, or 2) meet an individual state air emission limits through measures of the state's choosing. By addressing air pollutants in a cost effective fashion, EPA and the states will protect public health and the environment without interfering with the steady flow of affordable energy for American consumers and businesses.

For more information, go to: (EPA HQ)

Related Information:
Projected PM2.5 Nonattainment Areas in the Northeast
Projected Ozone Nonattainment Areas in New England
Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) (EPA HQ)
Air Quality (Ozone Smog)
Clean Air Act
Acid Rain