Green group cites lack of enforcement in nine-state legal action
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — More than 100 years after the dawn of the industrial age, factories and power plants are still spewing toxic soot into the air, even though the technology to halt the pollution is readily available.
Conservation advocates last week said enough is enough, and announced a far-reaching lawsuit that would force the EPA to finally live up to its obligation to enforce Clean Air Act standards.
“The Clean Air Act can only work to protect public health and ecosystems if it is actually enforced,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “EPA and the states have a moral and legal duty to work to together to clean up the toxic soot that’s polluting our skies.”
Soot, referred to as “particulate matter” by the EPA, is known to cause a range of health problems for people and wildlife. It fills the air with haze, harms plant life and acidifies water bodies. Particulate matter made up of tiny particles, about 30 times smaller than the width of the average human hair, can lodge deep in the lungs, posing serious health risks to humans and wildlife.
A range of toxic soot has been associated with a broad spectrum of harms to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including decreased biodiversity. This widespread pollution also causes regional haze that fouls vistas in scenic cities, national parks and wilderness areas.
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide, health-based standards for particulate pollution and sets mandatory deadlines for the states to develop, and for the agency to approve, specific plans for meeting the standards.
In communities throughout Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Tennessee, the EPA has failed to rule on whether metropolitan areas have submitted adequate plans to reduce soot pollution. The Center’s notice letter demands that the agency correct these violations in order to set up plans to reduce dangerous soot levels.
“The science is clear. Soot poisons our skies, our bodies and our ecosystems,” said Evans. “The EPA needs to take steps right now to implement the Clean Air Act to save lives and protect our environment.”