WASHINGTON – A new Clinton administration plan will ensure cleaner air in Maryland by requiring the state and 21 others to reduce their smog-causing emissions by one third, officials said Friday.
The Environmental Protection Agency told the 22 states and the District of Columbia that under the proposed plan, nitrogen oxides, the main ingredient of smog, must be reduced in greater amounts to meet clean air goals.
Maryland’s emissions would have to be reduced by 36 percent by 2012 under the plan.
The measure is designed to hold the states that produce most of the country’s smog accountable for the air pollution they are causing in other states.
“This is the first regulatory effort in history to deal with transport issues,” said EPA spokesman Dave Ryan. “These 22 states contribute significantly to the maintenance of air quality standards in other states.”
Maryland will be forced to make reductions in emissions under the plan, but also would benefit from reductions in other states, Maryland officials said.
“By reducing nitrogen oxides and other pollutants in upwind states, that’s going to help Maryland meet compliance with federal air quality standards,” said Maryland Department of the Environment spokesman Quentin Banks.
The rule calls for the states to implement a reduction plan by 2002. Individual states will decide how they want to reduce the emissions, but EPA officials said regulating utilities will provide the biggest reduction of nitrogen oxides for the least money.
“The states have total authority in deciding what they want to regulate,” Ryan said. “We’re recommending … that they concentrate on power plants.”
The Maryland Department of the Environment said the state will indeed concentrate on reducing emissions from utilities.
“We’re going to propose regulations which will help us to achieve a 65 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides from utilities by 1999,” Banks said. “This is an aggressive approach.”
There has been growing concern among East Coast states that Midwest emissions are adding to their smog problems.
West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, India and Kentucky are all required to reduce their smog-causing emissions by more than 40 percent.
If states do not comply, the EPA has power under the Clean Air Act to go into the states and enforce the standards.