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'Pollution does not stop at state borders'

Last modified: 11/12/2011 12:00:00 AM
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte was among six Republicans to vote against a bid to block new controls on power plant pollution that blows downwind into other states this week. The proposal was put forward by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and was ultimately killed on a vote of 56-41. On Tuesday, Ayotte spoke on the Senate floor, explaining her decision:

Mr. President, I rise today to discuss Senate Joint Resolution 27, a resolution of disapproval of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. I appreciate my friend - the senator from Kentucky - for bringing his concerns forward through this resolution. However, this is an issue that I have been extensively involved with as New Hampshire's former attorney general, and I believe this resolution is misguided. This issue requires a balanced approach, and when looking at environmental regulations, we must view each on a case-by-case basis. In that vein, I cannot support this resolution.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is designed to control emissions of air pollution that cause air quality problems in downwind states, and is estimated to reduce power plant sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent and emissions from nitrogen oxides by 54 percent from 2005 levels. It is important to note that similar pollution standards have been in place for six years - first implemented by the Bush administration in 2005 - and many utilities have already taken steps to comply with the rule. The rule encourages the use of the best technology available so downwind states such as New Hampshire will be able to achieve national clean air standards. Without this rule in place, New Hampshire will be unable to achieve national clean air standards due to air pollution that is outside of the state's regulatory control.

We have a long, bipartisan tradition in New Hampshire of working to advance commonsense, balanced environmental regulations. That's the perspective from which I approach this resolution. From my time as the state's attorney general, I understand well that New Hampshire is one of several downwind states in what is infamously known as 'America's tailpipe.' For far too long, air pollution generated by Midwestern coal-fired power plants has been allowed to flow into the jet stream unabated and to settle in the New England region - leading to diminished air quality in my home state on New Hampshire.

As attorney general, I worked to protect Granite State residents and our environment from air pollutants generated by Midwestern coal-fired power plants. The reality is that air pollution does not stop at state borders, and New Hampshire should not be the tailpipe for pollutants from out-of-state power plants. It is a matter of common sense to ensure that one state's emissions are not unduly harming another state's air quality.

(Republican Kelly Ayotte is New Hampshire's junior senator.)


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