Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 27, 2016

Contact: Jonathan Evans, (510) 844-7118,

Lawsuit Filed to Protect People, Wildlife From Dangerous Soot Pollution Across United States 

26 States Fail to Meet Clean-air Standards for Toxic Soot

OAKLAND, Calif.— Conservation and public health groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to enforce air-quality standards that limit dangerous particulate, fossil-fuel pollution from coal-fired power plants, cars and other sources. Today’s lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to ensure that communities in 26 states are taking legally required steps to meet clean-air standards to reduce soot pollution. 

“The EPA and states are ignoring their duty to clean up our skies to protect all of us from dangerous pollution,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center. “The Clean Air Act is one of the most successful tools for saving lives, protecting wildlife and reducing the haze of toxic soot pollution, but it can’t help if the EPA and the states don’t do what it requires.”

“The EPA recognizes that deadly soot pollution is linked to premature deaths, heart attacks and strokes and childhood asthma and bronchitis,” said Caroline Cox of the Center for Environmental Health. “The residents of these 26 states should not have to wait any longer for 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 set up plans to reduce dangerous soot levels. 

The 26 states that have failed to implement clean-air plans for soot are Alaska, Arizona, California, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Today’s suit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health.

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, which 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.

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