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For Immediate Release, February 1, 2010

Contact: Kevin Bundy, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 x 313

Lawsuit Initiated to Curb Soot Pollution

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to meet numerous deadlines for limiting dangerous pollution from tiny airborne particles like soot and dust. The EPA has violated the Clean Air Act by failing to determine whether five western states are complying with existing standards designed to protect the public from air pollution, and by failing to ensure that states are implementing legally required plans to meet the standards.

“EPA has failed to follow through on keeping the West’s air clean and free from dangerous pollution,” said Center attorney Kevin Bundy. “The Clean Air Act works to protect the environment and public health, but both EPA and the states need to do their part and comply with the law.”

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 serious risks to human health. This type of air pollution also causes regional haze that can obscure vistas in scenic places throughout the West, including national parks and wilderness areas. Particulate pollution also includes soot (or “black carbon”), a potent contributor to global warming. 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-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, specific plans for meeting the standards.

In communities throughout Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona, EPA has failed to meet deadlines for determining whether particulate pollution has been reduced to healthy levels. EPA also has failed to determine whether required pollution reduction plans in Arizona and Montana do enough to meet the standards. In some cases, the deadline for EPA action passed more than 10 years ago. The Center’s letter demands that EPA correct these violations or face litigation.

“The Clean Air Act gives EPA and the states the tools to do what is necessary to protect clean air and public health, but EPA can’t ignore its legal duty to get the ball rolling,” said Bundy. “This kind of pollution is dirty and dangerous, and EPA needs to do what the law requires to get it out of our air.”

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