EPA “Good Neighbor” Rule Cutting Industrial Downwind Pollution by Power Plants is Critical Step in Clean Air Fight

The Rule Is the Latest in a Series of EPA Regulations to Reduce Pollution and Smokestack Emissions


March 20, 2023
Contact: Christina Santi, christina.santi@abpartners.co


WASHINGTON – The Clean Air for the Long Haul coalition commends the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for finalizing a rule that will reduce toxic waste emissions from power plants and other industrial sources that burden downwind communities with smog pollution. The “Good Neighbor” Plan will require 23 upwind states to cut harmful smog-causing emissions and other pollutants to improve air quality for millions of people.

“Pollution from power plants and industrial sources don’t have borders. Far too many communities, especially communities of color, breathe unhealthy air because of smog-causing emissions far away from where they live,” said Anastasia Gordon, Energy and Transportation Policy Manager at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

“Largely unregulated ozone from upwind states has kept downwind states like New York from reaching attainment of the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS),” added Gordon. “We are pleased this rule will curb emissions that create unhealthy ozone levels in downwind communities across the country. The Good Neighbor rule is the first step in regulating local air quality and offering substantial public health benefits for the outlined states, especially in areas of low income and communities of color. Breathing clean air is a human right for all.”

The newly finalized rule would reduce power-sector-released nitrogen oxide pollution by nearly 50 percent from the 2021 ozone season NOx emissions by 2027. The rule will require not only power plants but also – for the first time – major polluting heavy industrial facilities like incinerators (which WE ACT recommended in its comments and was included in the initial proposal) to use specialized pollution control equipment during their varying state peak ozone season.

“In the Heartland, Kansas City shares a state line with Missouri, and Kansas and is impacted by interstate transport pollution because of the fossil-fueled coal plants and unregulated industrial and chemical facilities that do not meet the Clean Air Act Standards, and there is no proper enforcement of the CAA standards,” said Beto Lugo Martinez, executive director of the frontline, environmental justice organization, CleanAirNow. “Other contributing factors are the heavy-duty truck transportation, locomotive engines, and rail yards that are not regulated and contribute to black carbon soot and when interacting with other precursor pollutants, these react chemically and form nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and deadly ground-level ozone that from finer particulate matter that can lodge deep into the bloodstream causing premature death. This poses a significant threat to fenceline communities’ health.

“We were disappointed that freight and advanced recycling facilities, which are disproportionately located in environmental justice communities, were not included. The new rule also, to differing degrees, applies to 23 versus the 26 states initially covered in the proposal required to reduce ozone pollution negatively impacting downwind states. Moreover,  after industry and other stakeholders warned of grid reliability problems and other economic consequences, the EPA added compliance flexibilities for energy generators. This could delay timely and much-needed ozone emission reductions for overburdened communities downwind and close to polluting power plants and industries.

“While the EPA’s Good Neighbor rule is a starting point for better air quality, it is just the beginning.  There also needs to be stronger health protective regulation on soot (particulate matter), which can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and asthma, particularly for communities of color. According to EPA’s own analysis, tighter standards for particulate matter – an annual standard of 8 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) and 25 ug/m3 for the 24-hour standard — could prevent 9,200 premature deaths. EPA needs to continue buckling down on air pollution to ensure clean air and a better quality of life for all.”

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Clean Air for The Long Haul, a nationwide coalition of environmental justice groups, coordinates federal rulemaking campaigns, centering overburdened communities, to reduce air pollution from power plants, cars, and trucks. The coalition seeks to catalyze the environmental justice movement through federal emissions reductions targeting United States power and transportation sectors. Coalition member organizations include: Alternatives for Community and Environment, Clear Air NOW, Coalition of Community Organizations, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Duwamish River Community Coalition, Greendoor Initiative, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, South Bronx Unite, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, West End Revitalization Association, and Wisconsin Green Muslims.

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