Federal Lawsuit Urges EPA to Enforce Clean Air Act

Earthjustice has filed court papers arguing that the EPA has failed to establish adequate controls for the noise and pollution caused by snowmobiles


Cory Magnus, Earthjustice



Representing Environmental Defense and Bluewater Network, Earthjustice filed court papers yesterday arguing that the EPA has failed to establish adequate controls for the noise and pollution caused by snowmobiles.

Powered by two-stroke engines that dump 25-30 percent of their fuel unburned out the tailpipe, snowmobiles produce so much dangerous air pollution that Yellowstone Park Rangers are forced wear respirators to protect themselves.

“The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a single snowmobile discharges as much air pollution as about 100 cars even though proven, cost-effective controls could dramatically lower this staggering pollution,” said Vickie Patton of Environmental Defense. “The pollution from snowmobiles is harming some of the most pristine, scenic and ecologically sensitive areas in the country – as well as the people who recreate in them.”

To reduce this harm to public health and welfare, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set standards reflecting the greatest degree of emission reductions achievable through technology that will be available. Yet, the agency’s snowmobile standards – which will not be fully implemented until 2012 — do not even require manufacturers to use technology that is already available. In fact, the standards allow nearly one-third of the snowmobiles manufactured in 2012 to be nearly as dirty and noisy as those being made today.

“This is a forward-looking statute, designed by Congress to provide the greatest degree of reduction that can be achieved in the future,” said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew. “Here, the agency hasn’t come close. EPA’s snowmobile rule doesn’t even require manufacturers to make reductions that can be achieved with technology that is already available today. Instead of looking forward, EPA just closed its eyes and allowed industry to call the shots.”

[Click here for a downloadable soundbite from attorney Jim Pew. (4716 kb downloadable AUDIO)]

“From Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve to the flagship Yellowstone National Park, our forests and parks protect and preserve some our most untamed and beautiful landmarks. However, once again, the Bush Administration is demonstrating utter contempt for protecting our environment by allowing the indefinite sale of dirty two-stroke engines in snowmobiles, sacrificing our air quality at the cost of the public’s health,” said Russell Long, Bluewater Network’s Executive Director. “We refuse to let Mr. Bush get away with this.”

The case, Bluewater Network v. EPA, D.C. Cir. Nos. 03-1003 and consolidated cases, is in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Additional Contacts

James Pew / Jennifer Kefer, Earthjustice – 202/667-4500

Vickie Patton, Environmental Defense – 303/440-4901

Russell Long, Bluewater Network – 415/788-3666, ext.110

Additional Resources

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Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.