Court 'shoots down EPA' on Clean Air Act ruling

A US Federal Court has denied appeals by the US Environmental Protection Agency and industry to overturn the same court's December, 2006 ruling that struck down the agency's rule attempting to weaken protections against harmful smog-forming pollution.

According to the Earth Justice, the new court ruling 'reaffirms that EPA violated the Clean Air Act by relaxing limits on ozone, or smog pollution, from large power plants, factories and other industrial sources.'

"This court ruling means that anti-pollution control movement has to move forward," David Baron, Earthjustice Attorney, told edie.

"The EPA now has to apply stronger pollution control mandates in US cities."

Earthjustice successfully represented a group of public health and environmental organizations - the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club - that challenged the EPA rule and then subsequently defended the court's December decision that overturned the rule.

"Hundreds of counties across the country currently have dangerous levels of ozone smog. We've already seen high levels this spring," said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association.

"Ozone triggers asthma attacks, sends children to hospitals and emergency rooms, and even increases the risk of early death. Today's court decision puts us closer to having air that does not make people sick."

Mr Baron suggested to that a couple of pollution mandates that EPA should apply to the Clean Air Act:

  • Requirements for auto emissions testing on a period basis

  • Limits on pollution from construction and expansion of factories, where new and growing facilities should ensure that total emissions will be lower than before by offsetting net results. This is not yet required under general rules.

    "This court ruling is a victory for clean air and for people's lungs. It's taken a long time," said Mr Baron.

    A copy of the court's decision is available here.

    Dana Gornitzki

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