Your Ad Here

Friday, December 22, 2006

Smog Rules Illegally Weakened, Court Says

A federal appeals courttoday struck down an attempt by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to weaken national rules limiting smog linked to asthma attacks, increased hospitalizations, and that puts millions of Americans at risk for respiratory problems.

In a unanimous ruling, the court held that EPA violated the Clean Air Act in relaxing limits on smog-forming pollution from large power plants, factories, and other sources in cities violating health standards. Earthjustice brought the court challenge on behalf of the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council.

"This decision is a victory for clean air," says Earthjustice attorney David Baron. "The air in some cities is sometimes so dirty that kids can't safely play outside. Health experts say we need stronger, not weaker limits on smog."

Earthjustice argued that EPA's action made no sense because it came after the agency found that the previous ozone standard was too weak to protect public health.

"The rule allowed more pollution in cities where the air was already unhealthy to breathe," says Baron.

The 1990 Clean Air Act required stronger anti-smog measures in citiesviolating ozone standards, including limits on pollution from new and expanded factories, requirements for annual cuts in smog-forming emissions,and caps on truck and car exhaust.

In 1997, EPA found that thethen-existing "1-hour" ozone health standard wasn't strong enough toprotect health, and adopted a new "8-hour" standard to provide greaterprotection. But paradoxically, the agency in 2004 adopted rules that weakened pollution control requirements for areas violating both the old and the new standard. That triggered the court challenge leading to today's decision.

The court also rejected EPA's decision to exempt many cities violating the new standard from the law's most protective requirements. EPA argued that it should have discretion to apply weaker protections to these areas, but the court held that Congress -- frustrated with past failures to meet standards -- required a stronger approach.

Ozone is associated with asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, and otherrespiratory illness. Higher smog levels in a region are frequentlyaccompanied by increased hospitalization and emergency room visits forrespiratory disorders. Hundreds of counties across the country currentlyhave unhealthful levels of smog, which limits outdoor activities, increases hospitalizations, and puts millions of Americans at risk for respiratory problems.

Bookmark and drop back in sometime.

Enter your Email

Preview Powered by FeedBlitz



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home