Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 8, 2019

Contact:  Lyle Talbot, Desert Citizens Against Pollution, (661) 942-4209
Jane Williams, California Communities Against Toxics, (661) 256-2101,  
Neil Carman, Sierra Club, (512) 288-5772,
Lisa Belenky, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 385-5694,  

Lawsuit Challenges Air-pollution Permit for L.A.-area Gas-fired Power Plant

Trump EPA Ignores Harm to Southern California Air Quality

SAN FRANCISCO— Four conservation and public health groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today for approving a permit for a new gas-fired power plant in the Southern California city of Palmdale.

The lawsuit, filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, comes after the EPA failed to adequately consider requiring clean-energy alternatives relying on battery storage that would limit further deterioration of the region’s already unhealthy air quality.

“Local residents are contending with some of the worst ozone and PM pollution in the country; EPA’s decision allows massive more health-damaging air pollution to be spewed into the air we breath,” said Jane Williams, executive director of California Communities Against Toxics. “EPA seems determined to keep the wheels on this highly polluting, jalopy technology.”

The lawsuit was triggered by the EPA’s decision in April 2018 to issue a “prevention of significant deterioration” permit for a combined-cycle gas-fired power plant in Palmdale. The “deterioration” permit is only required in areas that already have bad air pollution.

In approving the permit, the agency not only rejected the use of battery-storage technology to reduce emissions but failed to accurately account for cumulative emissions in the area.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Desert Citizens Against Pollution, California Communities Against Toxics and Sierra Club appealed that permit decision to the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board, which upheld the permit.

“The whole point of the air-permitting process is to limit new pollution in areas that are already suffering from bad air quality,” said Neil Carman of the Sierra Club. “By failing to consider new control technologies to reduce pollution when it reviewed this permit, EPA ignored the very purpose of the program.”

“It’s appalling that the Trump EPA rubber-stamped more emissions that will worsen Southern California’s air quality,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s no excuse for approving more dirty fossil-fuel emissions when cleaner, safer technologies are available.”

“Downwinders, especially our children who attend schools near this proposed power plant, would be the most directly affected from the pollution from this power plant, especially when they are outdoors exercising,” said Lyle Talbot, founder of Desert Citizens Against Pollution. “Shame on the EPA for not protecting our children!”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Desert Citizens Against Pollution is a desert conservation group founded in 1982 in the Mojave Desert, active in opposing plans to site polluting facilities in the desert and dedicated to preserving our air, land and water.

California Communities Against Toxics was founded in 1989 and is a coalition of over 30 groups in California advocating for Environmental Justice, Pollution Prevention, and World Peace.

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