Federal Court Ruling Could Expose Vt. To More Air Pollution

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A Vermont environmental official says a recent federal court ruling could expose the state to more toxic air pollution.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has overturned an Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at controlling air pollution in eastern parts of the country.

The decision was a setback for states like Vermont that are downwind from the industrial Midwest. Pollution from factories and coal plants can make the air unhealthy in other states.

David Mears is Vermont’s environmental conservation commissioner. He says the Environmental Protection Agency rule was a good step to limit cross-border air pollution.

"If this does become a final ruling it means Vermont will continue to suffer the harm from this kind of air pollution which includes mercury," Mears says. "It includes nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, things that cause acid rain, also that are associated with particulate matter."

Mears says public health would improve significantly if particulate pollution were reduced.

"They’ve calculated that the annual  benefits for Vermont would be as many as 44 avoided deaths each year, and even at the low range, $140 million in health benefits annually starting in just a couple of years as a result of these pollution controls," Mears says.

But the appeals court found the EPA had exceeded its authority in promulgating the rule. Mears hopes the EPA appeals the decision.

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