ShareThis Page

Maryland suing EPA on power plant pollution in other states

| Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, 6:45 p.m.
A pickup truck drives down a road of the Homer City Generating Station in Homer City, Indiana County. A spokeswoman for Maryland's attorney general says the state is suing the  Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution. Homer City Generating Station is one of 36 power plant units in the petition that Maryland asserts are emitting air pollution affecting the state.
A pickup truck drives down a road of the Homer City Generating Station in Homer City, Indiana County. A spokeswoman for Maryland's attorney general says the state is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution. Homer City Generating Station is one of 36 power plant units in the petition that Maryland asserts are emitting air pollution affecting the state.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh speaks during a news conference in Washington.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh speaks during a news conference in Washington.

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution, the state's attorney general and an official in Gov. Larry Hogan's administration said Wednesday.

The Hogan administration says 70 percent of Maryland's ozone problem originates in upwind states.

Maryland petitioned the EPA in November for a finding that 36 power plant units in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are emitting air pollution affecting Maryland in violation of the Clean Air Act's “good neighbor provision.” In January, the EPA issued a six-month extension to the act, setting a July 15 deadline that Maryland officials say expired without action being taken.

“We're saying in the lawsuit: EPA failed to do its job,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat. “We're getting pollution from these other states. We asked them to do something about it, and they did nothing. They didn't hold a hearing. They didn't issue orders to Kentucky or Pennsylvania or any of their utilities to reduce their emissions, and so I'm not sure what their response is going to be, but it's a very straightforward matter. We're right. We're breathing their polluted air and they've got to stop.”

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Maryland. The EPA did not immediately respond to an email request for comment about the lawsuit.

Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, said the power plants have installed technology to control pollution, but unlike facilities in Maryland, they do not use the technology during key times, such as the hot summer months.

“We're asking the EPA to step in and make sure that those facilities do the same thing that we're doing in Maryland, and it makes a big difference for us downwind,” Grumbles said. “We know that those controls, if they're run continuously, will make a difference: help us attain our ozone standard and also help protect the lungs and waterways of Maryland.”

Hogan, a Republican, said the lack of EPA action threatens significant progress Maryland has made in recent years to improve air quality.

“We strongly urge the EPA to approve the petition and enforce the air pollution controls, already in place in Maryland, at upwind out-of-state facilities that threaten the health of Maryland citizens and our economy,” Hogan said in a statement.

Jon Mueller, vice president of litigation at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, noted that the Baltimore area had 14 days of Code Orange Air Quality Alerts this summer, meaning there was unhealthy air pollution for children and seniors.

“Living downwind of those plants, Marylanders suffer,” Muller said. “In 2014, these plants earned an extra $24 million in profits by not turning on the technology. Pollution from out-of-state power plants also harms our in-state streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.”

Grumbles said two other states— Delaware and Connecticut — have petitioned the EPA under provisions in the Clean Air Act in recent years to get a facility upwind to run its pollution controls or install technology. He said Maryland's lawsuit will be broader, because it involves 19 power plants with 36 units in five states.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.