Coal and methane gas power plants across 23 states are now covered by the final rule set by EPA, which is aimed at cutting air pollution in downwind communities that suffer from elevated rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The “Good Neighbor” rule is estimated to give around 80 million people cleaner air. “We know air pollution doesn’t stop at the state line,” EPA Administrator Regan said in a statement. “Today’s action will help our state partners meet stronger air quality health standards beyond borders, saving lives and improving public health in impacted communities across the United States.”
The rule will take effect in May, and has been largely celebrated by environmental and public health advocates, though the National Mining Association criticized the rule as part of an effort by President Biden to close coal-fired power plants across the country. The EPA’s previous plan on downwind smog is embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after the agency, though it is unclear whether the lawsuit will continue now that the rule is final.
Starting in 2026, EPA will set nitrogen oxide emissions limits for power plants and for existing and new sources of climate and air pollution coming from heavy industry. To meet the new rule, the EPA said most power plants and heavy industry will need to become equipped with better pollution control equipment, and make sure that equipment is operating during peak ozone season, which can vary based on climate and from state to state.