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1. A thread on the welcome news that annual emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) & smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are BOTH under a million tons in 2019 for the 1st time since the start of the Acid Rain Program (when monitoring began) in the early 1990’s.
2. Since 2005, U.S. SO2 emissions from covered electric power plant units (those > 25 MW that burn fossil fuels)decreased by 90.5%! — from 10,139,514 tons of SO2 in 2005 to 967,745 tons in 2019. (Hat tip to my crack number-crunching colleague, Amanda Levin, for these analyses.)
3. States that saw the largest percentage reductions from *in-state* electric power sector SO2 emissions since 2005 include Massachusetts (-99.8%), New Hampshire (-99.2%), Delaware (-99.1%), New York & Virginia (-98.9%).
4. States that saw the largest *total* reductions from in-state electric power sector SO2 emissions since 2005 include Ohio (-1.0 million tons), Pennsylvania (-933,144 tons) & Indiana (-740,623 tons).
5. Texas saw the largest drop in power sector SO2 emissions from 2018 to 2019 (-61,878 tons), but remains the nation’s biggest utility SO2 polluter by a lot: 149,135 tons versus 88,917 tons, for #2, Missouri.
6. Texas power plants still emit an astonishing 15% of all U.S. power sector SO2 emissions, more SO2 (149,135 tons) than the bottom 31 states’ electric power sector SO2 emissions, combined (136,263 tons).
7. Since 2005, U.S. smog-forming NOx emissions from covered electric power plant units—those > 25 MW that burn fossil fuels—decreased by a very impressive 76%, from 3,662,717 tons of NOx in 2005, to 878,381 tons in 2019.
8. States that saw the largest percentage reductions from *in-state* electric power sector NOx emissions since 2005 include Delaware (-96.4%), Massachusetts (-96.1%) & Maryland (-94.5%).
9. States that saw the largest *total* reductions from in-state electric power sector NOx emissions since 2005 include Ohio, again (-214,507 tons), Florida (-182,934 tons) & Indiana (-152,800 tons).
10. Texas saw the 2nd largest drop in electric power sector NOx emissions from 2018 to 2019 (-10,759 tons), but remains the nation’s biggest power sector NOx polluter by a lot: 95,595 tons versus 44,160, for #2, Missouri, again.
11. Texas power plants emit 2% of all U.S. electric power sector NOx emissions, but this represents more NOx (95,595 tons) than the bottom 21 states’ power sector NOx emissions, combined (89,247 tons).
12. These SO2 & NOx emission reductions are a testament to enforcing the Clean Air Act for these 2 decades, chiefly the Acid Rain Program, the Mercury & Air Toxics Standards & EPA’s interstate air pollution programs. Gas plants & coal plant retirements played material roles, too.
13. States with the biggest drops in SO2 & NOx pollution (TX, MO, OH, IN, KY, MI, WV, AR) saw their politicians & attorneys general most strenuously opposing the Clean Air Act safeguards that delivered these reductions (via (failed) legislation, lawsuits & War on Coal rhetoric).
14. So, while Clean Air Act safeguards guaranteed downwind states massive reductions in SO2 & NOx emissions carried from power plants in upwind states, the greatest pollution reductions AND greatest health benefits actually occurred in the recalcitrant, litigious upwind states.
15. We should not overlook the role played by retirement of old, dirty, uncontrolled/poorly controlled coal-burning power plants, when gauging these impressive reductions in SO2 & NOx emissions. We’re still crunching the #s, but this played an esp. material role from 2016-2019.
16. These impressive gains are a tribute to the power of law & regulations to cut pollution & protect people. Legal tools varied—performance standards, cap-&-trade, tech.-based standards—but all were enforceable mandates, w/ opportunities for citizen participation & enforcement.
17. We did not achieve these gains simply by relying on ‘innovation,’ or pollution pricing or taxes, or the magic of the marketplace. Had we done so, eschewing regulation, tens of thousands more would have died & tens of millions more would have suffered. Lesson, here.

The end.
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