BALTIMORE, MD (August 3, 2006) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) today took the first step in implementing the Healthy Air Act, which was signed into law by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., on April 6, 2006. The Healthy Air Act is the toughest power plant emission law on the east coast. The Act closely mirrors the emission reductions proposed in 2005 under the Governor’s Clean Power Regulations. Once enacted, the final version of the regulations will constitute the most sweeping air pollution emission reduction measure proposed in Maryland history.
On July 31, MDE submitted emergency regulations regarding power plant emissions to the General Assembly’s Joint Committee of Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR). The emergency regulations are the first step in implementing the Healthy Air Act.
The most important provisions of the regulations are the emissions caps placed on Maryland’s seven largest coal-fired power plants owned by Allegheny Energy Group, Constellation Energy Group, and Mirant Corporation. These caps will further reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 75 percent, sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 85 percent and mercury emissions by 90 percent.
NOx is the most important pollutant contributing to Maryland’s ground-level ozone or “smog” problem and also contributes significantly to nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. SO2 is the most important contributor to Maryland’s fine particulate air pollution problem and also has a significant role in creating regional haze that degrades visibility.
“These regulations are the key to bringing Maryland into compliance with new federal ozone and fine particulate air quality standards by 2010 and will also help clean up the Bay,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “We look forward making Maryland a national leader in air quality.”
The emergency regulations are intended to get the requirements of the Healthy Air Act in place quickly, but will have to be replaced by permanent regulations within six months. MDE will host several listening sessions in the late summer and fall with affected stakeholders, such as environmental groups and the utilities, to discuss the permanent regulations and other provisions of the Healthy Air Act that are due in the June, 2007, timeframe.
For more information or to obtain a copy of the proposed emergency regulations Emergency Power Plant Emission Regulations call MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration at 410-537-3245.