The EPA last week accepted petitions from eight Northeastern states asking the agency to order sharp cuts in pollution from individual dirty power plants in the Midwest and South. The pollution is believed to blow into the Northeast and contribute to serious air quality problems in the region. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA can order sharp pollution cuts at specific power plants and other facilities after states submit petitions; this is the first time the EPA has accepted such petitions. The petitions are considered a last-ditch move, especially considering two court rulings last month that threw off-track federal efforts to curb pollution. But the petitions are certain to be challenged in court as well by a coalition of industry groups and state governments.