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Biden EPA Cracks Down On Midwestern Factories, Power Plants

The Biden administration on Wednesday introduced stringent rules to limit emissions by power plants and factories located primarily in the Midwest, which often blow smog to other states.

The “Good Neighbor Plan” will impact 23 states and obligate a 50% cut in nitrogen oxide emissions by 2027, compared to 2021 levels, and beef up an existing emissions allowance trading program with more regular updates, according to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) press release. The finalized rule would generate $13 billion in annual economic benefits, protect sensitive environments and prevent roughly 1,3000 premature deaths, while companies are expected to pay roughly $910 million per year in compliance costs, according to the EPA.

“Every community deserves fresh air to breathe. EPA’s ‘Good Neighbor’ plan will lock in significant pollution reductions to ensure cleaner air and deliver public health protections for those who’ve suffered far too long from air-quality related impacts and illness,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in the press release. “We know air pollution doesn’t stop at the state line. 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 go into effect to limit emissions from power plants in May, while the rule will not impact industrial plants until 2026, according to an EPA fact sheet.

The move drew criticism from Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who described the Good Neighbor Rule as “anything but” and argued that the “top-down” regulations would hinder energy and manufacturing in the state. The state filed a suit in February to after the EPA rejected of its proposed plan to meet its obligations under the Clean Air Act, citing the plan’s potential to cause harm in Dallas-Forth Worth and Houston metropolitan areas, which state Attorney General Tim Griffin said was a different standard than the state expected to be held to when it first proposed its plan in 2019, according to The Associated Press.

Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware told The New York Times that the rule would benefit his state, which he says is at the end of “America’s tailpipe,” with more than 90% of all air pollution in Delaware blowing in from other states.

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