Louisiana Air Pollution Plan Rejected by Environmental Protection Agency

New Orleans, LA – Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Biden Administration’s proposed Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which will protect Americans from dangerous cross-state air pollution from coal-burning power plants and other industrial sources in 26 states. The announcement comes weeks after notice was given to Louisiana and 18 other states that their state implementation plans to curb pollution were not enough.

 

Cross-state air pollution is the air pollution from upwind states that crosses state lines and affects air quality in downwind states. Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions react in the presence of heat and sunlight to create ground-level ozone or smog. These emissions can affect air quality and public health locally, regionally, and in states hundreds of miles downwind.

 

The Biden Administration made a commitment to take bold and historic public health action that centers on environmental justice that can only be accomplished with swift action to reduce all levels of pollution. Currently, there are more than 150 coal-burning power plant units across the country lacking modern NOx pollution control technologies with no plans to retire before 2026. In Louisiana, those facilities include: 

  • Big Cajun 2, co-owned by Entergy and Louisiana Generation LLC  
  • R.S. Nelson Unit 6, owned by Entergy 
  • Rodemacher Unit 2 and Unit 3, co-owned by Cleco Power and Lafayette Utilities System  

Under the proposal, power-sector polluters will have to drastically reduce their emissions levels by 29% during ozone seasons, and the rule would reduce overall NOx emissions by 94,000 tons per year. The proposal also includes smog pollution reduction measures for pipelines and other major industrial polluters. Louisiana is also behind in implementing the Regional Haze rule, which would help address air pollution. In 2020, Sierra Club released a report detailing how these coal plants could be closed and replaced with clean energy while saving utilities money. 

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Statement from Angelle Bradford, Delta Chapter Executive Committee member:  

 

The announcement is a positive step for public health, especially for people living downwind from coal-fired power plants in Louisiana. For too long, marginalized and overburdened communities have shouldered an unfair burden on their health and well-being without the ability to protect themselves and their families from dangerous air pollution. Reducing pollution that travels across state lines will annually prevent a thousand premature deaths, 2,400 hospital visits, and 1.3 million asthma attacks.

 

It doesn’t make sense why the DEQ that Governor Edwards oversees is not putting forth strong implementation plans to reduce air pollution for Louisianans and our neighbors considering he supports pollution reduction goals established by the climate task force that convened.”