April 29, 2014

Sen. Whitehouse Statement on Cross-State Air Pollution Ruling

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the statement below today regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR):

“For too long, virtually uncontrolled coal-fired power plants have used tall smoke stacks to export dirty air to downwind states like Rhode Island – polluting our skies and endangering our health.  Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management could do nothing about those out-of-state polluters; we needed the EPA. Today’s ruling means that the big polluters’ days of dumping pollution on our citizens without consequence are over.  EPA will now be able to do its job and protect the American people from dirty air, and I applaud the Court for its ruling.” 

Each year, according to EPA, the air quality improvements from CSAPR are estimated to prevent between 13,000 and 34,000 premature deaths; provide $120 to $280 billion in health and environmental benefits; and to avoid 1.8 million missed work or school days.

Senator Whitehouse has had long-standing concerns about tall smoke stacks and how they diminish air quality in downwind states.  During his time as Rhode Island’s Attorney General, Whitehouse joined EPA’s lawsuit against American Electric Power for its illegal modification of 16 plants.  He has also spoken on this issue many times in the Senate, and in 2010 requested that the Government Accountability Office complete a report about the contribution of tall smoke stacks to east coast air pollution.  The report determined that “tall stacks [those taller than 500 feet] can increase the distance these pollutants travel in the atmosphere and harm air quality and the environment in downwind communities.”

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