Clean Air Rule Expected to Cut New Jersey Air Pollution

NEW YORK, New York, March 10, 2005 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized a rule that is projected to reduce the amount of pollution coming into the Garden State from other states and reduce pollution emissions in New Jersey. EPA Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson signed the final Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) today. CAIR will permanently cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the eastern United States. When fully implemented in 2015, CAIR will reduce SO2 emissions in 28 eastern states and the District of Columbia by more than 70 percent and NOx emissions by more than 60 percent from 2003 levels, the agency said. "CAIR will result in the largest pollution reductions and health benefits of any air rule in more than a decade," said 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." "Each and every state must do its part to reduce air pollution because air pollution knows no boundaries," said Kathleen Callahan, EPA acting regional administrator. "Part of the challenge faced by states like New Jersey is that a significant amount of pollution impacting the state comes from other states. This rule goes a long way toward addressing that problem." At the end of 2004, 13 New Jersey counties were designated as not attaining EPA's fine particle standard. Johnson says CAIR will help bring all of these counties into attainment by 2010. In addition, 21 New Jersey counties were designated nonattainment for EPA's smog standard, and CAIR is expected to reduce smog levels in all of these counties. The EPA's final CAIR rule does not establish a cap for SOx in New Jersey or Delaware because, taken individually, "these small states do not significantly impact particle levels in other states," the agency said. Still, the EPA believes these two states together contribute to PM 2.5 levels in at least one downwind nonattainment area. So, the EPA is proposing that New Jersey and Delaware be included in the CAIR emissions cap for SOx. The agency will take public comment on this proposal. "CAIR will result in more than $100 billion in health and visibility benefits per year by 2015 and will substantially reduce premature mortality in the eastern United States; these benefits will continue to grow each year with further implementation," the EPA said in a statement. The rule is projected to save an estimated 17,000 lives, prevent about 22,000 non-fatal heart attacks and 240,000 asthma attacks nationally each year.