OELC and other Environmental Groups Applaud Settlement in Power Plant Air Toxics Case
Deadline of November 2011 for EPA Rules to Cut Power Plant Toxic Air Pollution Emissions
Washington, DC – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will regulate air toxics emissions from the nation’s coal- and oil-fired power plants, and will do so by November 2011, according to a settlement agreement reached in a federal lawsuit brought against the Agency by a coalition of public health and environmental groups, and announced yesterday.
Attorneys at Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clean Air Task Force, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the lawsuit last December on behalf of their organizations, The Ohio Environmental Council, and eight other environmental organizations.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case, and look forward to working with the EPA to develop emissions standards for this industry that mandate the deep cuts in this pollution that the law requires,” said Ann Weeks, of the Clean Air Task Force, one of the lead attorneys for the groups.
“Children and women of childbearing age are at risk when power plants emit the levels of mercury they are emitting today – Ohio and all 50 states have declared fish advisories warning about mercury contamination. It is time to require deep reductions from this industry,” said Trent Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs at the Ohio Environmental Council, and Director of OEC’s Ohio Environmental Law Center.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA was required to control power plants’ emissions by December, 2002. Instead the Bush administration asked Congress to roll back the control requirements. Unable to win Congress’ support for that request, the Bush EPA tried to declare that the required pollution controls were simply not necessary or appropriate. The federal appeals court in D.C. completely threw out that attempt in February 2008, saying that the power industry remained subject to the requirement to control the air toxics it emits, and EPA remains responsible for issuing rules governing those emissions.
“Power plants are the largest unregulated industrial source of air toxics – it is unconscionable that nineteen years after the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, we still do not have air toxics controls on these large existing sources of pollution,” said Dougherty. “After years of litigating this issue, our groups look forward to a productive working relationship with the Agency as it finally develops these rules.”