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For Immediate Release
October 27, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

MARYLAND SUES EPA
OVER CHANGES TO CLEAN AIR ACT

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced that Maryland has joined 11 states and the District of Columbia today in suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over recent changes to the New Source Review program under the federal Clean Air Act. The states argue that the new regulations will sharply weaken national air pollution protections and result in damage to the environment and public health.

In the lawsuit filed today the states and localities argue that only Congress has the authority to make sweeping changes in the Clean Air Act. The new rules will allow coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other large industrial sources to release more pollution into the nation’s skies.

The Clean Air Act requires existing industrial sources of air pollution to install modern air pollution controls when they are modified. While Congress intended pollution controls to be added for any modification that increases pollution, EPA long ago allowed exemptions for “routine maintenance” to exclude routine work that would not be expected to increase pollution.

Sources in 11 upwind states contribute significantly to Maryland’s air quality problems. Pollutants such as nitrogen oxides contribute to the state’s ground-level ozone problems and to high levels of nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay.

“We will take whatever steps necessary to protect the health of our citizens and the Chesapeake Bay,” Attorney General Curran said. “Over 650,000 Marylanders suffer from respiratory ailments. The air they breathe–the air we all breathe–needs to be improved, and the rule announced by the EPA is a step in the wrong direction.”

The revisions to the New Source Review program were signed by the EPA Acting Administrator on August 27, 2003 but did not become final until they appeared in the Federal Register today.

Today’s action was filed in United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where a currently pending challenge to the first round of Clean Air Act rollback regulations was filed.

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