As the Obama administration pulls back on a broad rule to combat ozone pollution, a different rule that would also reduce smog-forming chemicals in Texas remains on track.
To the delight of conservatives in Texas and nationwide, the White House announced on Friday that ground-level ozone levels would be reviewed in 2013 rather than tightened immediately. But the controversial “cross-state pollution” rule, which aims at tightening emissions from power plants in Texas and 26 other states, remains scheduled for implementation in January. The cross-state rule targets nitrogen oxides, an ozone precursor, as well as sulfur dioxide, which is not an ozone precursor but can also cause lung damage.
“The cross state air pollution rule is final,” Betsaida Alcantara, press secretary for the Environmental Protection Agency, which crafted the rule, said in an email.
The ozone rule would have tightened requirements for pollution from a range of emissions sources like motor vehicles and even dry-cleaners, according to David Adelman, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. The “cross-state” rule, by contrast, applies more narrowly to power plants, and does not deal with “volatile organic compounds,” which like nitrogen oxides are another ozone precursor.
The idea behind the “cross-state rule,” said Adelman, is that “power plants are big sources and their emissions cross state lines quite readily. So in one jurisdiction you could have ozone problems where a significant source of the nitrogen oxides would be out of state.”
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