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Industry Challenge To Air Pollution Standard Is Rejected

Health protections remain in effect
June 24, 2011
Washington, D.C. —

Today, the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an industry challenge to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that cuts toxic air pollution from medical waste incinerators. In addition to the potent neurotoxicant mercury, medical waste incinerators release dioxin, which in even small amounts causes cancer. The challenged standards are EPA’s replacement for 1997 standards that failed to provide the level of protection required by the Clean Air Act and were remanded to the EPA in 1999 following a legal challenge by Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council. The new standards, which were upheld by the court today, are more protective and provide significant health and environmental benefits.

The court’s decision follows more than a decade of advocacy by Earthjustice and the Sierra Club to keep these dangerous pollutants out of communities.

The EPA projects that these clean air standards will reduce regulated air pollutants by nearly 400,000 pounds per year.

“The less medical waste incinerator pollution in our air, the cleaner and safer our air is to breathe,” said Ed Hopkins, Director of the Environmental Quality Program of the Sierra Club. “This rule will benefit the communities who live near these dangerous facilities.”

“Irresponsible Congressional critics should heed court decisions like today’s, and let EPA do its job to uphold the law, cut dangerous toxic air pollution and protect Americans’ health,” said John Walke, Clean Air Director, Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It is no coincidence that when EPA follows the Clean Air Act, its rules hold up in court,” said James Pew, Earthjustice attorney. “This rule will save lives and make our communities safer.”

Read the decision.


James Pew, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 214

Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 221