There has been recent news coverage about several Clean Air Act initiatives. We at the state Department of Environmental Protection would like to clarify the record about these highly complex and intermingled actions that were misrepresented in the Dec. 13 editorial, “LePage should sign anti-smog petition.”

Two similar issues, the Supreme Court case on the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the expansion of the Ozone Transport Region deal with ozone standards that Maine is already attaining. Since Maine is attaining ozone standards, it is not subject to Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

Therefore, after consulting with DEP, the attorney general’s office concluded that joining that case was not warranted. Midwestern states affect some Ozone Transport Region states’ ability to meet ozone standards, so they petitioned federal Environmental Protection Agency to include those midwestern states in the Ozone Transport Region. Consistent with the AG’s reason for not joining the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule case, Maine did not join the expansion petition. Ozone levels in Maine are directly related to states already in the Ozone Transport Region, not the midwestern states the petition aims to include.

Unlike what the editorial indicates, with the LePage administration’s support, the attorney general did go to court to support EPA’s final rule on coal-fired power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic substances. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is emitted from power plants, the largest source of man-made mercury emissions in the country, and contaminates our rivers and lakes.

Maine has enacted mercury emission requirements; the pollutants, however, travel far from their source, and midwestern power plants contribute significantly to mercury in Maine, which is why Maine is fighting to support EPA’s mercury control rules.

Maine carefully considers environmental impact prior to taking legal action. Crying wolf at every turn would hurt our credibility, while choosing our battles wisely will help Maine get meaningful results, ensuring strong environmental protections for the citizens of this great state.

Marc Cone, director Bureau of Air Quality, DEPAugusta

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