Connecticut Asks Upwind States to Clean Up Their Air

Dec 10, 2013

An ozone transport map illustrates how out-of-state pollution moves into Connecticut. Red is westerly transported air, which moves hundreds of miles. Yellow is a southerly, nocturnal, low-level jet. Green is short-range pollution, which moves at ground level and city-to-city in the mid-Atlantic and northeast.
Credit CT DEEP

Blame it on the wind patterns, which are responsible for moving most of America's air from west to east. Often, that air carries pollution from out-of-state coal plants into Connecticut, which contributes to the formation of ozone. Now, Governor Dannel Malloy and environmental leaders from around the northeast have filed a formal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency saying they've had enough. 

During a conference call on Monday, Malloy said, "It is fundamentally unfair for the people of Indiana or Ohio or elsewhere to send their dirty air to my state, and then expect that somehow, some way, I'm going to make the environment cleaner in Connecticut for our citizens." Connecticut joined seven other states calling upon states in the Rust Belt and Appalachia to reduce emissions and enforce stricter air quality laws. The petition says the commitments are long overdue, and are needed to protect the health of downwind residents.

"If I go down to the city of Stamford where I was mayor for 14 years," Malloy said, "on any given day, 90 percent of the pollution that's available in Stamford air is coming from the upwind states." A brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 cited EPA data saying out-of-state contributions were responsible for 93 percent of New Haven's ozone pollution.

The petition comes as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about the so-called "good neighbor" provision, which requires states to examine whether pollution generated in their state contributes to poor air quality in another. The EPA must rule on the petition within 18 months.