On August 14, 1997, DES filed a Section 126 Petition for the abatement of excessive emissions from upwind sources with respect to violations or the one-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) within New Hampshire. Many power plants outside the Northeast have not installed the significant pollution controls required of plants in the Northeast because they are located in rural areas that meet the current one-hour ozone standard. These plants were exempted from controls during the drafting of the Clean Air Act because it was assumed that they would soon retire. However, many of these plants are still operating and plan to continue for the foreseeable future. By comparison, power plants in New Hampshire have made substantial reductions in nitrogen oxides and will be required to do even more in the next few years. "It's time for this inequity to end," said Robert Varney, DES Commissioner at that time.
New Hampshire has been hampered in its efforts to meet federally mandated air quality standards and deadlines because of this phenomenon of air pollution transport. This legal petition forces the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose stringent controls on big upwind polluters that contribute significantly to New Hampshire's air quality problems. In filing the petition, New Hampshire joined with other Northeast states that face similar struggles under the Clean Air Act, trying to clean up the already-dirty air being blown or "transported" toward them. States accompanying New Hampshire in this action include Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Even though the petition was originally filed under the one-hour ozone standard, DES has requested that it also be considered under the more stringent eight-hour ozone standard. New Hampshire first attained the one-hour ozone standard in 1999 and is still maintaining it within the state. In 2002, two monitors in the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts once again violated the one-hour ozone standard, forcing the full Boston non-attainment area (including portions of Southern N.H.) back into violation of the standard. There is some question whether EPA can reconsider the original petition or if New Hampshire needs to re-file the petition.
EPA is currently finalizing implementation guidance for the eight-hour standard, which was challenged by industrial interests and several Midwestern states. Because New Hampshire projects non-attainment for the new eight-hour standard, DES is reviewing its options for a new petition under the eight-hour ozone standard.
Emissions Petition (full text)
Press Release - Text of August 14, 1997 press release
Supporting Graphics - Various graphics demonstrating transport towards New Hampshire
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