US Mayor Article

EPA Acts on Related Air Issues

By Shane Robinson
July 17, 2000

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of EPA on a set of regulations promulgated in 1998 and referred to as the "NOx SIP Call." At the same time, EPA is moving forward on new rules to regulate highway diesel emissions. EPA argues that these two sets of regulations will help cities to comply with the newly reinstated, old 1-hour standard for ozone as well as the contested, new 8-hour standard.

On June 23rd, the D.C. Circuit upheld the NOx SIP Call, a rule that will require 19 states to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, an ozone smog-producing chemical. The regulation targets 392 coal-burning power plants in these states that are blamed for creating pollution that drifts into eastern U.S. cities, making it difficult for those cities to meet air quality standards. This regulation applies to Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusettes, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The court has not yet ruled on whether Georgia, Missouri, and Wisconsin should be required to comply with the regulation.

Like the NOx SIP Call, the newly proposed set of regulations for highway diesel engines and fuels will go a long way in helping cities comply with air quality requirements, EPA argues. As reported in the May 29 issue of US Mayor, EPA estimates that this proposal would reduce smog-related emissions by highway diesel vehicles by 90 percent. Five public hearings were held in late June at locations across the country. At the Chicago hearing, individuals representing a broad range of groups spoke about the implications of the proposed regulations. As could be expected, representatives from environmental groups and the medical profession spoke in favor of the new rules. Interestingly, however, these voices were joined by those from the Engine Manufacturers Association, the California Trucking Association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and Daimler-Chrysler who also spoke in favor of the regulations that would dramatically reduce diesel emissions. Marie Valentine of Daimler-Chrysler called EPA's proposal "a great first step." Contrary to claims being made by oil industry representatives testifying at the hearing, Ms. Valentine stated that "cleaner fuel can be made available and it is being done at an affordable price."

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