Pollution knows no borders
For more than a decade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quite properly has held a dozen Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania, to some of the nation's most stringent air pollution standards.
The group, known as the Ozone Transport Commission, is under a mandate to reduce ground-level ozone, or smog, resulting primarily from a heavy reliance on coal-fueled electricity generation. States in the commission are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia and parts of Virginia.
Under the mandate, governments are required to reduce ozone generation within their borders.
But air pollution is not contained by state borders. In a petition filed last week with the EPA, nine of the commission states contended that downwind states produce much of the pollution that results in ground-level ozone in the regulated states. The petition, using as evidence pollution modeling data from the EPA itself, asks the agency to add Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, all of Virginia and West Virginia to the commission. Doing so would require them to diminish pollution that shows up in the regulated states.
Gov. Tom Corbett, like several other Republican governors in commission states, did not initially participate in the petition. To his credit, he included Pennsylvania a day after it was filed.
The EPA has 18 months to respond but it should do so sooner. It can't deny the evidence about pollution migration it already has produced.