For Immediate Release, April 29, 2010
Contact: Kevin Bundy, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 x 313
Lawsuit Filed to Curb Particulate Air Pollution
SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to meet numerous deadlines for limiting dangerous pollution from tiny airborne particles. The EPA has violated the Clean Air Act and undermined public health by failing to determine whether areas in five western states are complying with existing air-pollution standards and by failing to ensure that states are implementing legally required plans to meet the standards.
“EPA has failed to ensure that the West’s air remains clean and free from dangerous pollution,” said Center attorney Kevin Bundy. “The Clean Air Act works to protect the environment and public health, but only if it’s effectively enforced.”
Particulate matter, also known as PM-10, is air pollution made up of tiny particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter (about 10 times smaller than the width of the average human hair). These particles can travel deep into the lungs when breathed, posing risks to human health that include serious respiratory illness and premature death. Particulate pollution also damages ecosystems and obscures scenic vistas throughout the West, including national parks and wilderness areas. Particulate matter is one of several “criteria” air pollutants classified as especially dangerous to public health and welfare under the Clean Air Act.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set nationwide, health- and welfare-based standards for particulate pollution and sets mandatory deadlines for the agency to determine if states have met the standards. The Act also sets deadlines for the states to develop, and for EPA to approve, individual plans for meeting the standards.
In communities throughout the western United States, EPA has failed to meet deadlines for determining whether particulate pollution has been reduced to legally required levels. EPA has also failed to determine whether required pollution reduction plans in Arizona and Montana do enough to meet the standards. The Center’s lawsuit seeks a court order requiring EPA to correct these violations.
“Particulate pollution doesn’t just spoil the view – it can actually be deadly,” said Bundy. “In a perfect world, this kind of lawsuit wouldn’t be necessary, but when EPA fails to protect the environment and human health from these dangerous pollutants, citizens and the courts absolutely have to step in.”
A copy of the complaint is available here.