“Our people, our environment and our economy all need clean air in order to thrive. Every day our petition is delayed is a missed opportunity to make a real impact on pollution. North Carolina has made strides in cleaning up our own air, but we know that dirty air doesn’t stop at the state line. We will continue to take the necessary steps to protect North Carolinians from out-of-state air pollution.”
In March of this year, Cooper filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Section 126 of the Clean Air Act, asking the federal government to force coal-fired power plants in thirteen other states to cut down on pollution they are contributing to North Carolina. The plants identified in the petition are located in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
The EPA had until November 18 to make a determination about whether the power plants named in the petition are significantly contributing to North Carolina’s difficulty in meeting or maintaining clean air standards for particulate matter and ozone. Because the EPA has not made a determination, Cooper today wrote to EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt that he will take action in Federal court to compel the EPA to act on North Carolina’s petition.
Last week, Cooper informed the Tennessee Valley Authority that North Carolina intends to take legal action against the TVA if it will not agree to significantly reduce pollution produced by its coal-fired power plants that is harmful to North Carolinians.
Cooper asserts that out-of-state polluters are interfering with North Carolina’s ability to meet national air quality standards despite the state’s success at cleaning up in-state pollution under its Clean Smokestacks law. North Carolina’s law, approved by the General Assembly and Governor Easley in June 2002, is stricter than federal restrictions on power plant emissions and requires the state’s 14 largest coal-fired power plants to reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury.