An August 10 Gazette.net article reports that while Maryland remained on the National Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC’s) list of the 20 states with the worst air quality, Maryland has improved from the fifth worst to nineteenth. The drop was attributed to tougher air quality requirements on power plants under the 2009 Maryland Healthy Air Act. In the article a representative from the Maryland Department of the Environment states that more recent data than what was used for the list shows further pollutant reductions.
Among the 20 states on the list, Maryland showed the largest reduction — 88 percentage points — in toxic air pollution from power plants, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 data.
In a conference call Thursday, John Walke, clean air director and senior attorney for the NRDC, called Maryland’s move in the rankings “a truly astonishing drop.”
Walke attributed Maryland’s improvement to “a very progressive state law that they adopted early on,” and speedy compliance from power plant companies. He also cited state and congressional leadership.
The Maryland Healthy Air Act, enacted in 2009, required power plants to significantly reduce the output of mercury and other toxic compounds, and is regarded as a highly-stringent law.