Americans living with heavy industry and toxic air pollution may finally get real protection from unacceptable health risks and environmental damage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon begin new rulemakings to review and decide on any necessary updates to the emission standards and set any required risk-based standards for hazardous air pollution from 28 types of industrial facilities. These new rulemakings are part of an agreement resulting from a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Sierra Club, which sought to end delays by the Bush administration that failed to take action required by the Clean Air Act to ensure that hazardous air pollution rules for these industries are up-to-date and provide ample protection for human health and the environment.
Industries covered by the new rulemakings include facilities like pesticide production operations, lead smelters, aerospace facilities and pharmaceutical plants, which emit pollutants associated with cancer, birth defects, anemia, lung and respiratory harm, damage to the nervous system and other health disorders as well as environmental damage like food chain contamination.
After completion of a public comment period and final agency review for the proposed agreement, the EPA and Sierra Club plan to submit the final agreement to the court for approval later this year. The agreement requires EPA to begin take the first set of new toxic air pollution rulemakings by mid-September 2010, and then to perform additional rulemakings for various industries at regular intervals during the next few years.
"Under Administrator Lisa Jackson's leadership and with input from local communities nationwide during each of these important rulemakings, we hope and expect that the EPA's new action on air toxics should reap rewards for years to come, especially in local communities now under assault by toxic air pollution," said attorney Emma Cheuse of Earthjustice. "Strong Clean Air Act standards will reduce cancer risks and prevent other environmental health problems. No one should ever have to face health risks just because they live, work, or go to school near a polluting facility."