According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia gave the government the okay to move ahead with the rules, designed to force more controls on coal-burning power plants and other pollution emitters, such as heavy-duty trucks.
The trucking industry, as well as utilities and manufacturers, have challenged the regulation. In addition, some states have said that the effect of traveling smog has been exaggerated and pollution controls would cost too much.
According to the ruling, 19 states east of the Mississippi have four months to submit to the EPA plans for reducing nitrogen oxide, an ingredient in smog, by May 2003. Some of the states will have to impose tougher controls than others. Tall utility smokestacks in the Midwest, Ohio Valley and parts of the South have been blamed for much of the traveling smog, reports the AP.
Michigan, the lead plaintiff in the case, argued that it was wrong for a policy not based on scientific evidence to be put into law. State officials there had not decided whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.
EPA Administrator Carol Browner called the decision a major environmental victory. "It means that over a hundred million people will now breathe healthier air as the result of significant reductions in harmful emissions from the most polluting power plants throughout the region," she said in a written statement.
Whether the states get tough on power plant emissions or go after the exhaust of cars and trucks will be up to each individual state, as will the methods used. The EPA says going after utilities would probably be the cheapest way for states to conform, according to the AP.
The states affected by the ruling are Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.