Cap and Trade Partnership Lowers Smog Levels in Eastern U.S.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a report  showing that more than 103 million Americans breathe cleaner air thanks to a cap and trade partnership established in 2003 that reduces smog-forming emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The NOx Budget Trading Program is a partnership between federal and state governments to reduce the regional transport of NOx from power plants and industry in the eastern U.S. The 2008 NOx Budget Trading Program's annual report, covering 20 eastern states and the District of Columbia, showed that summertime NOx emissions from power plants and large industrial sources were down by 62 percent compared to emission levels in 2000 and 75 percent lower than in 1990.

Highlights of the report show that:

  • The reduction of NOx has helped reduce smog levels by 10 to 14 percent in the NBP region – largely in the eastern parts of the country;
  • There is a strong association between areas with the greatest reductions in NOx emissions and downwind sites that show the greatest improvements in smog; and
  • The program contributed to improvements in air quality in 97 percent of nonattainment areas in the east, with 85 percent of these areas now below the smog standard.
The program provides facilities the flexibility to choose their control options including installing control technologies, replacing existing controls with more advanced technologies, optimizing existing controls, and switching fuels.

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