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The Facts About the Cross State Air Pollution Rule

By Seth Oster

If you read the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday morning, you may have seen a story about how the EPA, in the face of industry pressure, plans to “ease” its Cross State Air Pollution Rule.

The problem is, that report is completely wrong about what is happening with the rule.

The Clean Air Act is a remarkable public health protection law, and one of the reasons it has worked so well for four decades is that it’s flexible enough to incorporate new and updated data — provided to EPA by states and industry — as we work to implement standards like the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. That rule, which will yield massive public health benefits by ensuring Americans don’t have to breathe in air pollution emitted in other states, was finalized back in July.

Whenever the EPA develops rules and safeguards under the Clean Air Act, we collect data from states and industries so we know how much of a given pollutant facilities are emitting, and work to determine how much that pollution can be cost-effectively reduced.

In some cases we receive additional information even after a rule is finalized — sometimes it is correcting or updating information initially provided by states or companies.¬†As always, EPA carefully reviews such data and, where appropriate, may make technical adjustments to the relevant standard.

Here’s the bottom line, and what the Wall Street Journal missed in their story: any changes to the Cross State standard under such a scenario would have no impact on the health benefits we expect this rule to achieve.

Breathe easy. The EPA is not “easing” the standards of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. We are doing what we always do under the Clean Air Act: taking steps to gather the best data and information, and moving forward with a commonsense standard based on everything we know.

Seth Oster is the Associate Administrator for External Affairs and Environmental Education at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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