Delaware fights “imported” air pollution

Brunner Island three-unit coal-fired plant located on the west bank of the Susquehanna River

Brunner Island three-unit coal-fired plant located on the west bank of the Susquehanna River

Delaware is taking aim at its neighbors in an effort to improve air quality in the First State.

Delaware’s small size along with it’s location among Mid-Atlantic states makes it vulnerable to imported pollution from its neighbors. Even though reducing sources of air pollution sources in Delaware would not reduce pollution, the state would still suffer from poor air quality because of its geographic location and pollution that is blown into Delaware’s air space.

To combat this, the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to force Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey to meet the 2008 national ozone layer. The EPA had granted the states a one-year extension to meet the standard.

“We cannot meet our air quality standards without sources in other states taking similar action,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “We need EPA to take steps to level the playing field between the states.” 

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One of the prime culprits of poor air quality in the region during the summer months is ozone. DNREC says more than 94 percent of bad ozone levels in Delaware are created blown into Delaware from neighboring states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, and states as far away as Michigan and Kentucky. 

“We are still dramatically affected by what upwind states are doing- or not doing- toward meeting air quality standards,” Small said.

Delaware has also filed a petition with the EPA to challenge the Brunner Island Power plant near York, Pennsylvania. DNREC leaders say the coal-fired electric plant’s emissions contribute to high ozone layers in Delaware. The plant is similar to Delaware’s NRG Indian River facility near Millsboro which installed nitrogen oxide controls in 2010 to reduce pollution. The state’s petition would force Brunner Island to promptly reduce emissions.

All three Delaware counties were given an ‘F’ in the American Lung Assocaition’s State of the Air report card for 2016. It was the eighth straight year the state has received a failing grade in the report. 

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