Chesapeake PSR

Pushing Back on NOx

Climate Change and Energy, Toxics and HealthTimothy WhitehouseComment

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility (Chesapeake PSR) and Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit against Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan to require the publication and enforcement of regulations that would curtail nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution from Maryland coal-fired power plants.

Governor Hogan, on his first day in office, suspended publication of a Maryland air pollution regulation. This regulation was adopted after a 15-month stakeholder process that garnered the support of public health advocates, Maryland’s independent air quality advisory council, the Maryland State Medical Society and the owner of three large Maryland coal plants. This regulation would have required coal-fired power plants in Maryland to install and use the same types of modern air pollution controls that are prevalent among coal plants in numerous states, including traditional coal states such as West Virginia, Alabama and Kentucky. Fewer than half of the coal plants in Maryland are equipped with such modern air pollution controls.

NOx - a generic term for the mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide) - is produced by the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen during combustion and is a major precursor to the formation of ozone, which can lead to various illnesses such as decreased lung function, acute bronchitis and asthma. Maryland ozone levels are some of the highest on the East Coast.