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Pa. joins pollution action against W.Va., other states

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania is joining a petition with eight other northeast and mid-Atlantic states to ask the federal government to require nine upwind states -- including West Virginia -- to reduce air pollution emissions.

Gov. Tom Corbett said Tuesday he hopes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ensures that other states abide by the same standards that Pennsylvania has.

The petition is aimed at Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. It seeks what it says are long-overdue commitments from the upwind states to reduce emissions carried by prevailing winds that contribute to the formation of ozone in the downwind states.

Other states signing the petition include Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The petition seeks what it says are long-overdue commitments from the upwind states to protect the health of downwind residents and to level the playing field for businesses.

"Even if the people of New Hampshire took every car off the road, we would, at best, reduce ozone by only 3 percent on bad air days," New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said. "And on those bad air days, New Hampshire receives more than 95 percent of its air pollution from upwind states."

The petition asks the Environmental Protection Agency to require the nine upwind states to join the petitioning states in what is known as the Ozone Transport Region. Under the federal Clean Air Act, states added to the region would have to take actions to reduce pollution consistent with downwind state efforts.

"Delaware air quality remains overwhelmed by air pollution from upwind states, even though we have reduced emissions within Delaware of ozone-forming pollution by more than 70 percent since 1990," said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.

The EPA is required to approve or disapprove of the petition within 18 months.

Unhealthy levels of ozone can cause coughing, throat irritation and chest pains. It can aggravate asthma and other chronic lung diseases.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on a case seeking to reinstate a federal regulation intended to reduce power plant pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.

Several justices suggested during a 90-minute argument that they believe the Environmental Protection Agency did not exceed its authority when it issued its cross-state air pollution rule in 2011. A divided federal appeals court panel invalidated the rule last year.

The appellate court said the EPA exceeded its authority by imposing "massive emissions reduction requirements" on plants in upwind states.


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