Delaware moves to mitigate pollution from upwind states
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control wants to require upwind states to reduce air pollution generated within their borders, claiming this poses problems for Delaware and the health of its residents.
DNREC Secretary David Small said the state has confirmed several cases of ozone exceedance in Delaware, seen on very hot, humid and stagnant days; but ozone exceedance is not just generated within state borders.
“We often see the formation of ozone to the west of us and it drifts during the course of the day," Small said. "Ozone may form over the Baltimore-Washington area for example, and then migrate across the bay and into portions of Delaware.”
DNREC is taking two steps to try and reduce this pollution and issues that come with it.
It’s heading to federal court to challenge a one-year extension the EPA granted to the Philadelphia-based ozone non-attainment area to comply with the 2008 national ozone standard.
“We are a non-attainment state for ozone," Small said. "There are other areas upwind of us that do meet attainment standards locally but they have a negative impact downwind. That’s why we are petitioning through the court and EPA.”
The state also wants the EPA to specifically flag emissions from Brunner Island Power Plant near York, PA, saying it dispenses unhealthy ozone concentrations into the First State.
James Corbett, a University of Delaware marine policy professor, said he believes the expectation that regional attainment of air quality goals must consider pollution sources that can cross boundaries is well established.
“It appears that Delaware recognizes itself as a smaller contributor to the sources of regional ozone pollution and also considers itself to be a ‘downwind’ recipient of the impacts,” Corbett said. “In fact, the DNREC petition claims that as much as 94 percent of seasonal ozone impacting northern Delaware results from the downwind formation of ozone from stationary and mobile sources in neighboring states.”
But making decisions about the pace to meet air quality goals is not easy, Corbett said.
“The science of air pollution, the engineering of emissions controls, and the policy’s actions to time and prioritize new measures across stationary sources (like power plants) and mobile sources (like cars and trucks) requires the kind of discussions raised in the DNREC petitions,” Corbett said. “We work on these kinds of interdisciplinary challenges at the University of Delaware, to provide (the) best information for evidence-based decisions that benefit the region."
While the two actions DNREC has taken are important to minimizing ozone pollution, Small said Delawareans can also contribute to improving air quality by consuming less energy at home or carpooling.