BALTIMORE, MD (Jan. 11, 2006) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) unveiled Governor Ehrlich’s proposed Clean Power Rule today. MDE revised the rule to further cut mercury and nitrogen oxide levels. Once enacted, the final version of the most sweeping air pollution control measures proposed in Maryland history will do even more to clean Maryland’s air than when proposed about two months ago.
“Combined with our historic Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act, the rule makes Maryland a national leader in air and water quality,” said Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. “Our plan dramatically improves year round controls on power plant emissions and will take bold action to reduce harmful mercury levels. In addition to cleaning the air we breathe, the rule will reduce nitrogen pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay, 30 percent of which comes from the air. Simply put, my Administration’s air and water quality strategy is making Maryland a cleaner and safer place to live.”
“We’ve taken a strong rule and made it even more restrictive, which is a good thing,” added Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick. “The Maryland Clean Power Rule is the key to bringing us into compliance with new federal standards. It will provide more than 90 percent in new local reductions needed to reach air quality attainment status.”
The rule will ensure emission reductions occur at Maryland’s most polluting coal-fired power plants. It will bring the State into compliance with federal health-based air quality standards for ozone and fine particulate by 2010.
Under the Clean Power Rule:
Power plant nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions will be cut by 69 percent by 2009. A second round of NOx controls will reduce emissions by a total of 75 percent in 2012. Combined with previous emission control measures, the rule will result in an overall NOx reduction of about 85 percent since 2000.
Mercury emissions will fall by 80 percent in 2010 and reach 90 percent in 2015.
Sulfur dioxide emissions will be reduced by 85 percent in 2010.
The Maryland Clean Power Rule surpasses existing work with the Ozone Transport Commission, a coalition of northeastern states partnering on air pollution issues. None of Maryland’s neighboring states have adopted rules to aggressively control emissions from power plants. Maryland is one of a few states on the East Coast to adopt a multi-pollutant rule for power plants. The Clean Power Rule is more restrictive than North Carolina’s highly touted “Clean Smokestacks Act”.
Largely because of pollution from excess nitrogen and phosphorus, the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers remain on the Clean Water Act’s list of impaired waters. The rule will benefit the Chesapeake Bay by reducing nitrogen from the air by up to 900,000 pounds per year, which is a significant step towards achieving Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Agreement commitment.
For more information or to obtain a copy of the rule go to: www.mde.state.md.us/Air/Md_CPR.asp or call MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration at 410-537-3245.
MDE will hold public hearings on the rule this spring. The meeting dates/times will be posted on MDE’s online calendar at: mde.maryland.gov/calendar.