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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

Overview

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

2572

Attorneys

Case Updates

October 1, 2019 | Legal Document

Close-Out Rule Judgement

These consolidated cases involve a challenge to an Environmental Protection Agency regulation known as the Close-Out Rule. The rule addresses the obligation of upwind states to reduce their contribution of ozone precursors to downwind states, which must attain an ozone pollution standard by certain statutory deadlines.

September 13, 2019 | Legal Document

Wisconsin v. EPA Ozone Transport Decision

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that U.S. EPA is illegally failing to control ozone pollution — smog — that travels across state lines and contributes to unhealthy air in downwind states. The ruling requires EPA to secure clean air by reducing the pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants and other polluting industries in upwind states — pollution reductions that will save hundreds of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks every year. The court also rejected arguments by polluting industries and red states that the pollution reductions EPA has already required are too costly.