Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt asking him to reconsider the agency’s June 8 proposal to deny four Clean Air Act 126(b) petitions filed by Delaware to reduce harmful emissions from power plants in upwind states.

“Ground-level ozone pollution, commonly known as smog, is a real environmental health threat to many Americans, especially those living in the Northeast…Downwind states like our home state of Delaware cannot clean up ozone pollution alone. In order for our constituents to breathe healthy air, upwind states must do their fair share to reduce ozone pollution,”the delegates wrote.

Delaware filed four petitions to urge EPA to hold the power plants in the Northwest responsible for nonattainment that year under the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards accountable to the good neighbor law.

“Delaware identified four out-of-state fossil-fuel power plants that continue to significantly contribute to Delaware’s ozone problems…We believe each of these sources significantly contributes to Delaware’s ozone problem and that the actions requested by Delaware of its upwind neighbors are ‘adequate provisions’ to control those emissions as mandated by Congress in Section 110(a)(2)(D)(i) of the Clean Air Act. Instead of worrying solely about the costs and burden of the upwind states, EPA must prioritize the ‘residents of the state which receives the pollution and the harm’ when considering any 126(b) petition. EPA has failed to meet these criteria. The requested actions laid out by Delaware’s 126(b) petitions are de minimis for upwind states compared to the continued costs our state and Delaware’s residents will incur if these long overdue actions are not taken,” the delegates wrote.

The Donald Trump administration’s EPA has made it harder for states, especially downwind states, to meet clean air goals by cutting state air program funding, weakening enforcement and rolling back critical clean air protections.

“EPA cannot assume Delaware and other states in the Northeast will be in ozone attainment for the 2008 or 2015 NAAQS in the outer years without any air quality modeling of the effects of current policy changes. What we do know is that Delaware is currently in nonattainment, these four facilities are significantly contributing to nonattainment and EPA must act now,” the delegates wrote.

The four petitions filed by Delaware sought reductions in emissions of ozone-forming nitrogen oxide from specific power plants in the upwind states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The EPA will accept public comments on this proposed action through July 23. Public comments can be submitted electronically at regulations.gov, under Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OAR–2018–0295. The EPA held a public hearing on this proposal at the EPA offices in Washington, D.C., on June 25, but no hearing in Delaware was held after numerous calls for consideration from Carper and Delaware state officials.

The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2MtLA88.