Biden Administration Tackles Dangerous Power Plant Air Pollution

EPA releases new rule to limit pollution from dirty power plants and other industrial sources

Ricky Junquera,

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Biden Administration’s proposed Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which will protect Americans from dangerous cross-state air pollution from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources in 26 states. The announcement comes weeks after notice was given to 19 states that their state implementation plans to curb pollution were not enough. 

Cross-state air pollution is the air pollution from upwind states that crosses state lines and affects air quality in downwind states. Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions react in the presence of heat and sunlight to create ground-level ozone or smog. These emissions can affect air quality and public health locally, regionally, and in states hundreds of miles downwind.

The Biden Administration made a commitment to take bold and historic action that centers on environmental justice that can only be accomplished with swift action to reduce all levels of pollution. Currently, there are more than 150 coal-burning power plant units across the country lacking pollution control technologies with no plans to retire before 2026. 

Under the proposal, power-sector polluters will have to drastically reduce their emissions levels by 29% during ozone seasons, and the rule would reduce overall NOx emissions by 94,000 tons per year. The proposal also provides answers for downwind states impacted by pollution originating in another state. 

In response to the new rule, Holly Bender, Senior Director of Energy Campaigns at the Sierra Club, released the following statement:

“Today’s announcement is a positive step for public health, especially for people living downwind from coal-fired power plants in other states. For too long, marginalized and overburdened communities have shouldered an unfair burden on their health and well-being without the ability to protect themselves and their families from dangerous air pollution.

“The EPA's proposal would require power plants with pollution controls to actually run them, and for plants lacking controls to come up to industry standards, resulting in cleaner air for millions of Americans. Once implemented, the Cross-State Air Pollution rule will save the lives of millions of Americans, and many of these improvements will be felt almost immediately. Protecting the public from air pollution that travels across state lines will prevent a thousand premature deaths annually, as well as 2,400 hospital visits and 1.3 million cases of asthma symptoms per year. The rule would also save Americans $15 billion in annual health costs.

“The Sierra Club looks forward to working with EPA and our coalition partners to get these life-saving safeguards in place to protect American communities as quickly as possible.”


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit