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Press Release September 13, 2004

EPA Rule Allows Toxic Air Emissions from Industrial Waste Incinerators

Federal rule exempts thousands of local waste incinerators from effective emission controls

The Cheswick coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania, reflected in a window of a home in Springdale, is among the hundreds of power plants likely covered by the Mercury & Air Toxics Standards.
(Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)
feature April 5, 2023

The Mercury & Air Toxics Standards

When coal is burned in the U.S., most of the mercury in the coal no longer spews into our air — thanks to a federal rule that Earthjustice and our clients fought for and continue to defend.

Press Release: Victory June 12, 2009

U.S. EPA to Review Standards for Hazardous Waste Combustors

Failure to regulate has allowed release of tons of toxic pollution released annually

An industrial incinerator, as viewed from a church playground in Midlothian, Texas.
(Photo courtesy of Samantha Bornhorst)
case October 3, 2014

Protecting Communities from the Toxic Pollution of Waste-Burning Incinerators

Commercial/industrial waste-burning incinerators burn waste produced from utilities and mining, oil and gas operations or from the manufacturing of wood and pulp products, chemicals and rubber. About 15,000 incinerators are scattered across our country. Recognizing the threat these incinerators pose to public health, Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency to set strict limits on all…

An industrial incinerator frames a church playground in Midlothian, TX. A wide array of toxic pollutants from nearly all commercial/industrial waste-burning incinerators across America are currently not regulated by the EPA.
(Photo courtesy of Samantha Bornhorst)
Article October 6, 2014

20 Years, Yet EPA Still Fails to Protect Us From Polluting Incinerators

Recognizing the threat incinerators pose to public health, Congress directed the EPA to set strict limits on all waste-burning incinerators by 1994. Twenty years later, EPA has only set pollution limits for 106 of the about 15,000 total facilities across the country.

In the News: Grist October 5, 2021

EPA might finally regulate the plastic industry’s favorite kind of ‘recycling’

Jim Pew, Attorney, Washington, D.C., Office, Earthjustice: “It’s quite simple. If you want to burn municipal waste, meet the Clean Air Act standards for municipal waste incinerators. If you want to burn industrial waste, meet the Clean Air Act standards for industrial waste.”

Press Release November 21, 2005

Conservation Groups Call for Stronger Protections Against Waste Incineration

Litigation challenges EPA rule that does little to protect against mercury, PCBs and more

Press Release March 19, 2004

EPA Fails to Regulate Toxic Air Emissions

Proposed rule proves to be inadequate

Press Release July 20, 2011

Bill From Sens. Collins and Wyden to Delay Clean Air Act Protections Creates Permanent Exemption for Industrial Waste Burning

Bill permits uncontrolled industrial waste burning and will lead to thousands of premature, preventable deaths

Press Release December 8, 2005

Hazardous Waste Combustors Remain Major Source of Unregulated Toxic Pollution

Lawsuit challenges flawed EPA rule that allows hazardous chemical emissions

Press Release June 16, 2011

Air Pollution Loophole Puts Communities in Danger from Unregulated Waste Burning

Groups sue U.S. EPA to close loophole, protect public health and the environment

Press Release: Victory June 11, 2007

Court Shuts Down Illegal EPA Incinerator Rule

Decision will require protective controls for toxic emissions from waste burners

Article June 16, 2011

Pushing Pyromania

Not all burning is bad. For example, campfires rule—when they are done sensitively. I don’t mean with tenderness, but rather with attention paid to the ecosystem and the importance of the fallen wood within it. Those fires bring light, heat and comfort to our small corners of the wild. But in other corners of the…

Press Release June 8, 2010

EPA Abandons Rule Permitting Unregulated Hazardous Waste Burning

Environmental groups and communities cheer decision to enforce hazardous waste laws

There are over 200 sewage sludge incinerators operating in communities across the U.S. The health effects from the toxic air pollutants they emit include premature death, cancer and respiratory problems.
(Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)
case: Victory August 21, 2013

Cleaning Up Sewage Sludge Incinerators

The federal government has made every effort to avoid setting clean air standards for the nation’s 218 sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs), which burn a witch’s brew of dirty wastes: pesticides, medical waste, industrial by-products and discarded materials from auto shops, for example. The Bush administration tried to exempt SSIs from the Clean Air Act entirely.…