Maryland is taking the EPA to court over air pollution coming from upwind states

Maryland plans to take the Trump administration to federal appeals court now that the Environmental Protection Agency has rejected the state's demands that it do more to limit coal power plant emissions in upwind states.

The EPA on Friday finalized a decision it had proposed in May denying a Maryland petition under a section of the federal Clean Air Act known as the “good neighbor” provision.

Now, “litigation is the next step,” said Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said the state is working on an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The “EPA’s decision is wrong,” Frosh said. “If it is allowed to stand, the air Marylanders breathe will be dirtier, especially on the hottest days of the summer — through no fault of ours.”

In the petition, Maryland asked EPA to crack down on 19 coal plants in five states. The state says the plants have installed technology to scrub their emissions of harmful pollutants, but that they don’t use it enough on hot days, when air quality is often worst.

In other states, plants don't have to use the pollution controls every day as long as their average output of the noxious gases remains under federal standards.

Maryland requires that plants within its borders run their pollution-control technology more often, but officials estimate that only about 30 percent of smog that blankets the region on summer days comes from inside the state.

The state is mainly concerned about levels of nitrogen oxides in the air, substances that can trigger or worsen respiratory problems, create ozone pollution and throw off the ecology of Chesapeake Bay waterways.

Most of the state’s congressional delegation — Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, John Delaney, Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin — released a statement in support of the legal action. They urged state officials to “take all measures possible to appeal and overturn this decision.”

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