Supreme Court Decision Keeps Strict Industrial Pollution Limits

A victory for Earthjustice and those who live near refineries, other plants

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You know when you’re hiking up a mountain and you think you’ve reached the summit, only to turn the corner with the realization that you have further to climb? Well, Earthjustice and other clean air advocates have finally reached the summit, putting an end to litigation involving a loophole that gave industrial facilities a free pass to ignore pollution limits whenever plants start up, shut down or malfunction.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the American Chemistry Council (and others) a request to review the case, which Earthjustice won in December 2008.

The Supreme Court’s decision is huge for us, but it’s folks on the ground (the ones that live near these plants and their skyrocketing emissions) that are cheering the loudest — people like Jesse Marquez: who lives three miles from a Wilmington, California Tesoro Energy Corp’s refinery which caught fire last September because of a malfunction. Jesse was at the scene, taking pictures and recalling the terrible mixture of crude oil and diesel fuel filling the air for 6 hours.

That same month, Tesoro CEO Bruce Smith traveled to DC to lobby Congress to protest emissions reductions.

Joining Jesse in praise for this decision is Susan Falzon, of Friends of Hudson, who represents residents living near a Ravena, NY cement kiln plant where poisonous emissions have peaked during these operation modes:

Those of us living near or downwind of the Lafarge cement plant have been subjected to the effects of regular startup, shutdown, malfunction incidents that have gone on for years with no enforcement actions taken.

Not anymore Susan.

Raviya was a press secretary at Earthjustice in the Washington, D.C. office from 2008 to 2014, working on issues including federal rulemakings, energy efficiency laws and coal ash pollution.