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Court upholds Cross State Air Pollution Rule

Federal ‘Good Neighbor’ standards help limit acid rain in Adirondacks

The Gavin Power Plant on the Ohio River in Cheshire, Ohio, is fired by coal. (Photo provided — Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which regulates states’ pollution emissions to keep them from harming downwind states.

The decision also came with a requirement of the Environmental Protection Agency to set a date as to when states have to adhere to the federal air quality standards. The standard, a part of the federal Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” standards, was created to prevent a state’s coal-fired power plants from damaging the air quality of a neighboring state.

The decision was seen as a win by environmental groups, including the Adirondack Council, which have challenged the EPA in recent years for not enforcing the Clean Air Act.

“We are very pleased that the court upheld the rule and will continue to require 22 states upwind of the Adirondack Park to curb their emissions,” said William Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, which is based in Elizabethtown.

In the past few years, the EPA has been sued by multiple states, including New York and Connecticut, in regard to their air quality not being at the rate it should be because of the pollution coming from upwind states. The consequences of those heightened levels of smog have yielded health issues such as asthma as well as environmental issues like acid rain.

“Protecting clean air prevents a return of acid rain in the Adirondacks. We cannot afford to reverse decades of progress restoring clean water, native fisheries, forests and wildlife, critical for the ecological integrity, wild character and economy of the Adirondack Park,” Janeway said.

In previous cases that the EPA has lost, district courts have ordered that the EPA comply with the Clean Air Act’s requirement to address smog pollution from upwind states, such as West Virginia, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.