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Ensuring States Control Soot Pollution

A coal-fired power plant.

Soot pollution does not just make people die a few days earlier than they might otherwise—these are deaths that would not have occurred if the air were cleaner.

Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

What's at Stake

The U.S. EPA is responsible for crafting national air quality standards, but strong national standards don’t matter much if states don’t implement them effectively. Earthjustice won a critical victory that directs EPA to ensure its soot standards are stringently put in place at the state level.

Case Overview

Soot pollution from power plants, oil refineries and other industrial operations is a major killer—new national standards limiting soot pollution levels in our air could prevent up to 15,000 premature deaths every year.

But the life-saving power of these standards hinges on the stringency of measures that states take to reduce soot emissions in highly polluted areas. This process often breaks down because EPA’s directions for states tend to be weak and out of step with what the law requires. Such was the case with the agency’s rules to control deadly soot pollution.

Earthjustice sued to ensure that EPA requires states to take meaningful actions to cut soot. In January 2013, a federal court ruled for Earthjustice by requiring EPA to ensure stringent controls are placed on soot polluters in communities that have failed to attain health standards in a timely fashion, including installation of the best available pollution control technologies. This critical victory means that the benefits of EPA’s strong federal soot rule will carry over into states’ efforts to implement them, making the air safer to breathe for people who live in polluted areas nationwide.

Case ID

1791, 1662

Attorneys

Clients

Case Updates

May 16, 2014 | Blog Post

Courts Demand Clean Air for Americans

Over the last few weeks, the nation’s federal courts—including the Supreme Court—have blessed Americans with four major clean air victories.

May 15, 2013 | Press Release

Clean Air Takes Over Capitol Hill

More than 100 physicians, tribal leaders, labor leaders, clergy, nurses, parents to meet with Congress on carbon pollution, smog, ash, other clean air priorities

March 12, 2013 | Blog Post

Scope of Science: The Dark Side of Soot

Soot is melting the Arctic. Even scientists are alarmed with the disappearance rate of ice in the northern hemisphere. When soot falls on snow and ice it increases the amount of light and heat that is absorbed, just like any reflective surface. The Arctic is not alone in this unprecedented melting; the life-supporting snowpack in the Himalayas is also feeling the impact.

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June 25, 2007 | Legal Document

PM2.5 Petition for Review

Petition asking EPA to review its PM 2.5 implementation rules for states.