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Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) Reconsideration

Case Overview

Toxic air pollution from refineries, chemical plants, incinerators and other large industrial plants can increase to as much as ten times allowable levels during startup, shutdown, and malfunction events. Nonetheless, EPA's regulations exempted plants from toxic emission limits during these periods. Moreover, though EPA requires plant operators to prepare a plan for minimizing emissions during these highly polluting periods, EPA did not require plants to comply with their plan and allowed the plan to be kept secret from the public.

In December of 2008, as a result of this lawsuit, this loophole was closed by a federal court. Industry groups appealed the decision, and in March 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case, effectively ending litigation.

Case Updates

December 30, 2010 | Blog Post

Celebrating Americans Who Didn't Die in 2010

According to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 160,000 American lives were saved in 2010 by the Clean Air Act’s health protections. Four decades of clean air protections have made the U.S. stronger, healthier and more prosperous.

December 19, 2008 | Legal Document

Startup, Shutdown, Malfunction

This court decision eliminates a loophole that had allowed polluters to ignore pollution limits whenever equipment malfunctions, and whenever they start up or shut down operations.

September 11, 2008 | Legal Document

Opening Briefs in SSM case

Opening briefs in case challenging air pollution loophole allowing polluters to evade clean air laws during so-called 'startup, shutdown, and malfunction' periods