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States Sue EPA Over New Pollution Standards

Dec 19, 2006 | Fearing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) isn’t doing enough to protect our air quality, 13 states plus the District of Columbia filed suit last week against the agency in D.C. federal court. The plaintiffs are calling for stricter regulation on toxic emissions, claiming that the new airborne pollution standards are too lax and violate the Clean Air Act. In addition, a petition has been filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

At issue is what’s known as fine particulate matter, including dust and soot that is emitted from factories, power plants, and cars. This type of pollution has been strongly connected to respiratory disease and heart ailments; even a small reduction in emissions may save thousands of unnecessary deaths.

The EPA delivered their new standards in September, and they are set to go into effect this week. However, many environmental researchers and health officials believe that the federal government’s proposed restrictions on emissions are not nearly rigid enough. The EPA’s own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee has even argued that the current restrictions are not sufficient enough to maintain healthy air-quality standards.

The legal action originated from the office of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who said, “It is unfortunate that this coalition of states must resort to legal action to get the EPA to do its job to protect the environment and the public health.” Spitzer is New York’s Democratic governor-elect.

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