Epa Offers To Ease Air Pollution Requirements For States
States would be allowed to choose an interstate cap and trade program for sources of nitrogen oxides (NOx) to prevent significant deterioration of air quality in place of the existing system of measuring increments of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), under a plan proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under a proposal to ease restrictions on states, they would also be allowed to adopt their own planning strategies and implement these in lieu of the NO2 increment system if they show that the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements for NOx are satisfied through some combination of state and federal emissions controls that have been or will be adopted.
The third regulatory option offered is retain the existing increments NOx measured as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the ambient air as established in October 1988.
NOx is a precursor to the formation of ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution. At elevated levels these pollutants can aggravate heart and lung conditions, increasing susceptibility to respiratory illnesses. Fine particles are also associated with premature death.
In additional these pollutants have negative environmental impacts including vegatation damage, acid deposition, and visibility impairment.
The EPA indicates that regulations can be relaxed because pollution levels are falling and “ozone levels have decreased over the past 10 to 25 years.”
“Under the current PSD program for NOx and in conjunction with numerous other air pollution control programs and regulations on industries and vehicles NOx emissions in the United States have fallen from 25.1 million tons per year in 1990 to 20.5 million tons in 2003, according to EPA’s most recent air emissions trends report,” the agency said.
In 2003, the improved air quality resulted mainly from favorable weather conditions and continuing reductions in emissions, according to EPA’s most recent ozone air quality trends report.
Several future regulations on industry, power plants and vehicles are expected to further reduce NOx emissions and help prevent the formation of ground-level ozone.