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Court: EPA Must Rein In Unregulated Industrial Toxic Air Polluters

Victory: Coal- and oil-fired power plants will lose Bush-era exemption
April 15, 2010
Washington, DC —

A historic agreement reached between environmental and public health organizations and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will regulate the toxic air emissions from the nation's existing and new coal- and oil-fired electric power plants to the maximum achievable extent.

The agreement was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer of the District of Columbia after a public hearing held on April 13, 2010.

Under the terms of the agreement, national standards for will be finalized by November 16, 2011.

Largest Unregulated Toxic Polluters

"EPA's own data show that coal- and oil-fired power plants are the largest unregulated industrial emitters of toxic air emissions, including mercury, arsenic, nickel, chromium, cadmium, acid gases, and dioxins. EPA has been in a position to regulate this industry since 2000, and this landmark decision is a huge win in creating a healthier environment for all Americans," said Ann B. Weeks, who represented environmental and public health plaintiffs The Ohio Environmental Council, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Izaak Walton League of America, Environment America, and Conservation Law Foundation, at oral argument before the court.

"We welcome the court's decision," said Earthjustice attorney James Pew, who represented Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund in the case. "It ends the litigation and lets the real work begin: cleaning our air and water of the toxins that coal- and oil-fired power plants have been filling them with for far too long."

Other attorneys on the briefs included John Suttles of the Southern Environmental Law Center, for American Nurses Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility, John Walke for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Jon Mueller for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Scott Edwards for Waterkeeper Alliance.

Read the consent decree (PDF)

Contacts

James Pew, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 214
Ann B. Weeks, Clean Air Task Force, (617) 359-4077

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.