Regional Commission May Push EPA on Pa. Power Plant Emissions

    Acting at Maryland’s behest, a regional air pollution agency is taking initial steps to recommend that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency require greater emissions controls at Pennsylvania coal plants.

    In late May, the Maryland Department of the Environment petitioned the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), comprised of 12 East Coast states and the District of Columbia, to pressure EPA for greater pollution controls at Pennsylvania power plants, which contribute to high ozone levels in downwind states.

    Maryland separately is suing EPA in an attempt to compel the agency to crack down on the Pennsylvania plants. But state officials said Monday that last week’s OTC vote to start a process for collecting public comments about possible Pennsylvania violations of the Clean Air Act was a step in the right direction.

    “The Ozone Transport Commission took an historic step to fight interstate smog in the Chesapeake region, adopting Maryland’s petition calling for Pennsylvania utilities to run air pollution controls every day during the summer when it matters most,” Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said in a statement.

    State officials have long maintained that smog from Pennsylvania has contributed to higher ozone levels in Maryland and jeopardizes the state’s ability to comply with federal clean air standards.

    The OTC, an advisory agency to the EPA established through the Clean Air Act, said it would announce a process for collecting public comments on the Pennsylvania emissions “in the near future.”

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.