Friday, March 19, 2004

North Carolina A.G. Points Finger at Other States

Cool move! Under provisions of the Clean Air Act, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper yesterday filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to force 13 other states (Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) to clean up their air pollution, particularly that coming from coal-fired power plants, since all that stuff in the air coming across the stateline -- particulate matter and ozone -- is mucking up North Carolina's improving air quality, the result of the state's own Clean Smokestacks law passed a couple of years ago. (Raleigh News & Observer story here)

This move puts the Bush administration's EPA in an awkward spot, naturally. Asked to enforce the law, when it's been on a three-year crusade to bend, manipulate, downgrade, and weaken that law, they immediately started making excuses: "EPA spokesman Cynthia Bergman said the problem goes beyond North Carolina, and that many states are struggling with air pollution from neighboring states. That will be addressed by the EPA later this year, she said, when the agency finalizes its Interstate Air Quality rule, 'which will result in the deepest cuts in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions in more than a decade.' " Blah, blah, blah.

Some of the 13 states named in Cooper's petition reacted with wounded indignation, especially South Carolina, which took a page from Republican Economics 101 ("we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing"): " 'If North Carolina is successful in its petition, it could chill economic development and cost South Carolina jobs at a time when we can't afford to lose any more,' said spokesman Trey Walker. 'We tried to work with North Carolina, but it seems a fight is what they want, well, a fight is what they'll get.' "

As someone else lately and famously said, "Bring it on!"

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