November 22, 2002
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
EIGHT OTHER AGs TO SUE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
FOR WEAKENING CLEAN AIR ACT
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that he is joining
eight other State Attorneys General in filing a federal lawsuit
against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for endangering
air quality by weakening a critical component of the Clean Air Act.
in the Act announced today by the Bush Administration would allow
many industrial air pollution sources, including coal-fired power
plants, to escape review under the New Source Review provision of
the Clean Air Act. New Source Review requires that industrial plants
add modern air pollution controls when they are upgraded or modified.
Attorneys General said that this major weakening of the Act will
further degrade air quality in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states,
which currently struggle with dirty air caused in significant part
by industrial pollution carried into the region on prevailing winds.
will take whatever action necessary to ensure that any changes to
the existing Clean Air Act NSR program do not put the health of
our citizens or the Chesapeake Bay at greater risk," Attorney
General Curran said.
The lawsuit will allege that EPA is exceeding its authority and
violating Congressional intent by enacting rules that weaken the
Clean Air Act. When Congress passed the Act in 1970, its intention
was to improve the environment and protect public health by lowering
levels of pollution. The new rules announced today by EPA would
allow air pollution levels to rise.
approximately 90 percent of Maryland residents live in non-attainment
areas and breathe air in violation of the health standard for ozone.
Environmental Protection Agency analysis of the transport of ozone
into Maryland found that 11 jurisdictions outside of Marylands
state borders significantly contribute to unhealthy ozone concentrations
1999, Curran and seven other state Attorneys General joined the
federal government in suing numerous coal-burning power plantsthe
nations largest source of emissions of nitrogen oxides and
sulfur dioxidefor violations of the existing New Source Review.
These emissions contribute to a number of environmental problems
including ground level ozone (the primary component of urban smog),
fine particulate matter (which causes respiratory diseases and even
premature mortality), and acid rain (which damages lakes, streams
following elements of the new rules are among those likely to be
challenged by the state Attorneys General lawsuit:
of a "clean unit" exclusion. The EPA will create a
fifteen-year New Source Review exemption for a facility that has
installed modern pollution controls in the past ten years. This
could give a facility that installed technology that was not even
state-of-the-art many years ago a blanket exemption for emissions
increases well into the future.
approach for calculating baseline emissions. EPA would allow
facilities to set their "baseline" emission levels at
the average of their highest two years of pollution out of the last
ten years. Thus, polluters could significantly increase their emissions
over current levels without installing pollution controls.
applicability limits. EPA will exempt polluters from New Source
Review if they agree to a cap on their air pollution. The cap could
be set higher than the facilitys current emissions, even though
the Clean Air Act intended air pollution to decrease.
lawsuit will be filed in federal court in the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the D.C. Circuit. The case will be filed when the regulations
are published in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly.