Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 8, 2015

Contact: Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7118

Lawsuit Filed to Protect People, Wildlife From Toxic Soot Pollution in
California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health and Neighbors for Clean Air sued the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to enforce air quality standards that limit dangerous particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants, cars and other sources. Today’s lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to ensure that communities in Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon and Utah are implementing air quality plans that meet clean air standards to reduce soot pollution. 

“The Clean Air Act saves lives, protects wildlife and reduces the haze of toxic soot pollution,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We can only reduce the scourge of air pollution if the EPA and states follow a sound blueprint to clean up our skies.” 

Soot pollution causes serious health problems for people and wildlife, creates regional haze, and harms the environment. The burning of fossil fuels to generate power and drive automobiles has led to soot pollution throughout the country.

“Soot is one of the deadliest types of pollution, and even the EPA has acknowledged that soot pollution is linked to premature death, heart attacks and strokes, and childhood asthma and bronchitis,” said Caroline Cox of the Center for Environmental Health. “The residents of these states should not have to wait any longer for clean air that won’t make them sick.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide, health and public welfare-based standards for particulate pollution and sets mandatory deadlines to develop plans to achieve and maintain air quality standards. Today’s lawsuit demands that the agency correct these violations in order to set up plans to reduce dangerous soot levels. 

Soot, referred to as “particulate matter” by the EPA, is often produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Particulate matter is made up of tiny particles about 30 times smaller than the width of the average human hair and can lodge deep in the lungs. It causes a range of health problems for people and wildlife, results in regional haze, harms plants and acidifies water bodies.

Last month the Center for Biological Diversity reached an agreement with the EPA to enforce Clean Air Act standards limiting dangerous pollution from tiny airborne particles like soot in Iowa and Puerto Rico.

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