BALTMORE, MD (March 13, 2006) – The Maryland Air Quality Control Advisory Council (AQCAC) accepted the Maryland Clean Power Rule by a vote of 8-1 with one abstention today. The proposed rule, one of the toughest power plant emission rules on the east coast, will be published in the Maryland Register in late April. Once enacted, the final version of the regulations will constitute the most sweeping air pollution control measures proposed in Maryland history.
“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 requires 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 kept the rule strong but addressed several concerns related to ensuring that costs to consumers are minimized,” 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 of the 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 work to bring the state into compliance with federal health-based air quality standards for ozone and fine particulate by 2010.
Under the Clean Power Rule as approved by the AQCAC:
Power plant nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions will be cut by 69 percent by 2009. A second round of NOx controls could reduce emissions by a total of 75 percent in 2012.
Mercury emissions will fall by 75 percent in 2010 and reach 90 percent in 2013.
Sulfur dioxide emissions will be reduced by 80 percent in 2010. A second round of SO2 controls could reduce emissions by a total of 85 percent in 2014.
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. Once approved, Maryland will be 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.
The Air Quality Control Advisory Council (AQCAC), established in 1967, advises MDE on proposals by recommending adoption, rejection or modification of the draft regulations or other matters brought before it. The council consists of up to 15 members appointed by the secretary of the department. As designated by the State Environment Article 2-201, members include representatives from industry, labor, professional associations, local and regional government organizations, academia, farming, the medical community and the general public. AQCAC meets on an average of four to eight times per year at MDE’s headquarters in Baltimore.
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 in May or June. The meeting dates/times will be posted on MDE’s online calendar at: mde.maryland.gov/calendar.