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Defending a Major Interstate Air Pollution Safeguard

Hazy air covers the eastern United States.

Hazy air covers the large portion of the United States, stretching from the Midwest, to the Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic. Image acquired July 26, 2005.

NASA Earth Observatory


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths each year and provide up to $280 billion in health and environmental benefits by reducing pollution that crosses state lines. Environmental groups, as well as the EPA and various states, have asked the Supreme Court to reverse a court of appeals decision invalidating the rule.

Earthjustice attorney Howard Fox is among several attorneys representing Environmental Defense Fund in this case before the Court.

If allowed to take effect, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would require power plants in more than two dozen states to clean up nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution that drifts across state borders and contributes to harmful soot (particles) and smog (ozone) pollution in downwind states. According to the EPA, the rule would every year prevent 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits, 19,000 episodes of acute bronchitis, 420,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms, 400,000 episodes of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million days of missed work or school.

The rule was adopted under the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, and that is what the rule requires—that upwind states generating this pollution not foul the air in other states.

The agency also projects that the rule’s pollution reductions will help protect not just people, but also the natural resources on which we depend, including national and state parks, and ecosystems including the Adirondack lakes and Appalachian streams, coastal waters and estuaries, and forests.

Case ID



Case Updates

August 31, 2018 | Legal Document

Joint NGO Comments Bad Neighbor Rule

Comments of Earthjustice, Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Environmental Law And Policy Center, Clean Air Task Force, Downwinders At Risk, NAACP, and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services on EPA’s Proposed Bad Neighbor Rule

April 29, 2014 | In the News: Washington Post

Supreme Court Upholds EPA Rule Limiting Cross-State Pollution

The Supreme Court struck down an industry challenge that prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal plant pollution across state lines. The ruling is a tremendous victory for public health and the environment as it grants the EPA the authority to require old plants to install modern pollution controls. “People who live downwind from this deadly pollution have a right to breathe air that doesn’t sicken and kill them,” Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice president.