Pennsylvania is one of eight northeastern states that recently filed a petition against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the air pollution drift that is contributing to the region’s ozone pollution and smog problem. The EPA recently refused to widen the Ozone Transport Region established within the Clean Air Act that requires states to increase their efforts to control emissions that contribute to ozone pollution. The plaintiffs claim that emissions in several western states that are not required to comply with the Ozone Transport Region mandate are being blown into the northeast region by wind drifts.
By widening the Ozone Transport Region, upwind states, such as Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia, would be required to enforce more aggressive measures to control their emissions that are contributing to smog. Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont have made emission control a priority, but their efforts have been sabotaged by the upwind states’ lax regulation and resultant air pollution drift. As emission control efforts increase to reduce smog and ozone pollution, the air pollution blowing in from the western states decreases the success of these efforts by raising the air pollution and smog index.
Scientists also worry that climate change and increases in overall temperatures on Earth can make the problem worse. Since ozone pollution and smog thrive and expand in hot temperatures, climate change will make the problem even more dangerous in the northeast regions of the United States. Air pollution would increase and will not dissipate as quickly as temperatures rise.
The recent filing comes five years after the northeastern states filed their original petition against the EPA. In a December 2013 lawsuit, the EPA contended that the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act already required states to limit emissions affecting other states, and refused to expand the Ozone Transport Region. Fast forward five years, and the ozone pollution problem still exists and has not improved with reliance on the good neighbor provision. This year’s lawsuit demands more aggressive action.
Ozone pollution comes from several sources. Car exhaust is the leading cause, but power plants, gas-powered engines, and factories also make significant contributions to the problem. The dangerous mixtures of these gases and the chemical reaction that occurs on hot sunny days have been known to cause health problems. Cardiac and respiratory health issues increase in states where the ozone pollution and smog levels are highest. The Pennsylvania state attorney general’s office estimates that ozone pollution and smog were responsible for 700 fatalities in 2017 alone.
Cardiac and respiratory problems are serious health issues that can result from exposure to ozone pollution, smog, and other contaminants. If you or someone you love has suffered health related problems due to exposure to air pollution, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced team of Philadelphia environmental lawyers at Williams Cedar at 215-557-0099 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are centrally located in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and across the nation.