TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pennsylvania joins effort to limit pollution drifting into state

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 2:03 p.m.
 

Pennsylvania will join eight states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in petitioning the federal government to require nine states upwind to reduce their ozone emissions, Gov. Tom Corbett said on Tuesday.

“Our hope is that the EPA will level the playing field by ensuring other states are being good neighbors by abiding to the same standards we have in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said in a statement.

Corbett said the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are subject to more stringent air quality standards than the upwind states.

Some leaders in the petitioning states are concerned that their air-quality efforts are being undermined by pollutants coming from West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

“There's a big problem here,” said Jim Thompson, Allegheny County's deputy director of environmental health. “Depending on the time of year and the atmospheric conditions, anywhere between 50 to 70 percent could be coming from upwind sources.”

Thompson said the county health department fully supports Corbett's petition. Ozone issues are typically handled by the state, leaving the county health department unable to address concerns with neighbors in Ohio and West Virginia. Past pressure on upwind states to curb other forms of pollution has helped to lower levels in the county, Thompson said.

Pennsylvania and the other petitioning states want the nine upwind states to join them in a so-called ozone transport region, which under the federal Clean Air Act would force them to take actions to limit air pollution.

Petitioning governors said upwind states failed for decades to install technology needed to contain emissions of organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, which cause asthma and other respiratory diseases and contribute to as much as 98 percent of the ozone air pollution problems in their own states.

To justify its decision to join the petition, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection noted significant reductions in nitrogen oxides in New York and Maryland, both members of the ozone transport region. Between 2007 and 2011, New York decreased nitrogen oxides by 41 percent and Maryland by 47 percent, according to the DEP report. Ohio and West Virginia decreased emissions by 22 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Pennsylvania increased emissions by 14 percent, the report stated. Pennsylvania and other states will have trouble meeting future air quality requirements if the EPA does not force more restrictions on upwind states.

“The petitioners have an obligation to provide their citizens with healthy air quality, but they cannot do this on their own,” the DEP wrote in its report.

Chris Abbruzzese, a spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said the state is doing everything required under the Clear Air Act and “will not be voluntarily joining the Ozone Transport Commission.”

Air quality officials in West Virginia did not comment.

The Environmental Protection Agency has 18 months to decide on the petition request.

Staff writer Aaron Aupperlee and Reuters contributed. Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Kang’s 9th-inning home run gives Pirates wild victory over Twins
  2. Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed
  3. Steelers’ Wheaton adjusting his game moving to slot receiver
  4. School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
  5. Pirates notebook: Prospect Tucker unaware of ‘trade’ frenzy
  6. Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
  7. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell gets suspension, fine reduced
  8. Van Halen plays plenty of favorites in First Niagara show
  9. 5 face trial in beating of black man in Pittsburgh
  10. More than 100 stamp bags confiscated in Greensburg; 4 arrested
  11. Pirates’ Liriano unaffected by poor last outing against Twins