Court Sends Pennsylvania Haze Rule Back to EPA

Agency has an April deadline to rework standard

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On Tuesday, Oct, 22, the federal appeals court in Philadelphia gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency an April deadline for reworking its rule to limit haze pollution from Pennsylvania sources. This pollution reduces visibility and causes bad health effects at parks and wilderness areas.

Earthjustice, on behalf of the Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and Clean Air Council, had sued the EPA over the Pennsylvania haze plan. Inadequate air pollution requirements for big polluters, including coal-fired power plants, degrade air quality at the Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia, and other treasured public lands. This pollution harms human health, with children, pregnant women and seniors most vulnerable.

This plan is supposed to protect nearby jewels like the Brigantine Wilderness Area and Shenandoah National Park, but instead had required no emission reductions—zero, nada, nil—at any of Pennsylvania’s 33 haze-causing sources.

The EPA had acknowledged that the rule needed more work and sought to take the rule back from the court, but without any time limit.

Earthjustice sought, and achieved, a 6-month time limit for EPA action—faster than the dog-years in which EPA seems to operate. Citizens want a timely, effective rule, and we’ll be watching.

Charles McPhedran is a senior attorney in Earthjustice’s Clean Energy Program, where his work focuses on air quality and energy matters. He has appeared on behalf of environmental organizations in federal appellate and district courts, in state courts, and before administrative agencies.

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