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Downwind states vs Upwind states in fight over imported air pollution

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Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy and 7 of his colleagues including those from New York, Rhode Island and Delaware have petitioned the EPA to restrict air pollution emissions from 9 “upwind states,” which they contend is blowing into their regions and contributing to higher ozone levels and health problems in the northeast. Offending states (located in the Rust Belt and Appalachia) include Tennessee, Illinois, Virginia and Kentucky.

The move comes a day before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments over the “Cross-State Air Pollution Rule” (also referred to as the “Good Neighbor rule), which requires coal-burning states to curb emissions where the wind blows pollution across their borders.

“I care about this because half of Connecticut’s pollution comes from outside our state, and it is lowering the life expectancy of our residents with asthma and heart disease,” Malloy stated. “They are getting away with murder. It is in our state, not theirs.”

“The petition seeks long overdue commitments from ‘upwind states’ in the south and Midwest to protect the health of ‘downwind’ residents and level the playing field for businesses,” added Delaware Governor Jack Markell. “Delaware air quality remains overwhelmed by air pollution from these areas even though we have reduced emissions within our state of ozone-forming pollution by more than 70%.”

Although the Good Neighbor rule was struck down by an appeals court, the Obama administration contends it is “vital to protecting the health and economies of different regions.”

Note: It is interesting to note that all the governors who signed the petition are Democrats. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican declined to join in.

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