Delaware’s Air Quality Threat: Know How Pollution Affects You
Despite improvements to our air quality, air pollution remains a pervasive public health threat. And even people with healthy lungs can suffer the effects.
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Small State, Bigger Issue
For decades, the state has proactively enacted new regulations and standards intended to reduce ozone and particle pollution levels.
But the issue stretches far beyond Delaware’s borders. According to EPA data, more than 90 percent of the state’s ozone problem can be attributed to pollution that blows in from out of state.
“In many respects, Delaware is doing everything it can, but upwind sources, be they coal-fired power plants in the Ohio River Valley or vehicle-related pollution from the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia metro area, are stymieing Delaware’s efforts,” explains Kevin M. Smith, director of environmental health with the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.
In 2011, the EPA issued the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which ordered reductions of sulfur dioxide and NOX emissions from coal-fired power plants in 28 eastern states. A year later, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the rule after it was challenged in court by EME Homer City Generation, a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Pennsylvania. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review the appeals court’s decision.
“We are supporting EPA’s effort in developing a transport rule and are also looking at our legal options should that effort fail,” says Ali Mirzakhalili, director of the DNREC’s air quality division.
“We continue to look for opportunities to reduce our own in-state pollution, but we cannot solve the problem without reducing the out-of-state pollution,” he adds. “It is something we cannot solve on our own.”