Press Release

BALTIMORE (October 6, 2003)-- Kendl P. Philbrick, Acting Secretary of the Environment, announced today that Maryland has joined other Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states in calling for deeper and earlier cuts in pollution from coal-fired power plants and other significant sources than those contained in the Clear Skies Initiative.

A resolution adopted by the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), an association of 12 states and the District of Columbia, endorsed the Clear Skies Initiative’s multi-pollutant approach to controlling pollution from the electric power sector, but said that nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from power plants must be significantly lower than the 1.7 million ton level projected by Clear Skies.

“The Clean Air Act alone won’t get us where we need to be, so a multi-pollutant approach, such as is now being debated in Washington, is the correct course, and the Bush Administration’s bill takes us in the right direction,” Philbrick said. “However, additional reductions are necessary to address NOx, SO2 [sulfur dioxide] and mercury emissions from power plants – especially coal-fired plants – because of the health and environmental benefits that will come from long-overdue reductions in these emissions.”

The OTC resolution proposes a compliance deadline of 2012, as required by the Clean Air Act. Recent modeling done within the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) shows that, even
with the Clear Skies proposal, ozone transport from other states would still cause violations of health standard in Maryland despite the state’s aggressive efforts to control air pollution within its borders.

“The State of Maryland and the member states of the OTC have taken and will continue to take steps to control air pollution,” said Thomas C. Snyder, Director of the Air and Radiation Management Administration of MDE. “Now is the time for EPA and the Congress to act to make sure that other states are held to the same standards. Air pollution transport is too important to the health of the citizens of Maryland to be ignored any longer.”

In Maryland, 15 counties in the Baltimore-Washington region fail to meet the new, stricter 8-hour ozone standard that goes into effect next year; 268 counties in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast also fall short of the new standard. According to EPA projections, no additional Maryland counties – and only three in the region – would meet the standard under the Clear Skies Initiative by the attainment date.

A county is in “non-attainment” when ozone levels reach the unhealthy (or red) level on the air quality color scale. High levels of ozone affect people with respiratory problems as well as children and the elderly.

Maryland has started to work proactively with EPA to identify effective solutions, including a tightening of the emissions caps and the timeframes to produce a “Clear Skies Plus” concept that would protect Maryland’s air quality from pollution transported from upwind states.

In addition to Maryland, OTC member jurisdictions are: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.