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Comments on EPA’s Transport Rule

Today, Policy Integrity offered suggestions on the EPA’s plans to reduce certain kinds of air pollutants that waft across state lines.

In 2005, EPA issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which established a cap-and-trade program for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in 28 states and the District of Columbia. It sought to reduce power plant emissions of two unhealthy toxins released into the air when coal is burned — sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) that can wreak havoc on our respiratory causing asthma, heart disease, and cancer.

Large coal fired plants spew these pollutants and wind carries the particles into neighboring states sickening citizens. CAIR required states to be “good neighbors” and keep their toxins to themselves.
But a court ruling found problems with the law’s interstate trading system that offered the purchase of allowances to meet reduction requirements.

EPA’s new preferred approach, if adopted, allows for some interstate trading, which the agency does not believe runs afoul of the court’s requirement.

There are other options included in EPA’s plans but we prefer the proposed alternative that allows for the most interstate trading permissible under the law. We also recommend modifications that could improve the efficiency of the trading program.