Stronger auto emissions testing standards have now been fully implemented in the Philadelphia area, according to papers filed in federal court earlier this week. The new standards, ordered by the court last December, will mean cleaner, more healthful air throughout the five-county metropolitan area.
The court order came in a suit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council. Citing federal Clean Air Act requirements, the court gave state officials a deadline of this month to start requiring stronger emission limits for vehicle inspections. Pennsylvania had originally promised to adopt stronger limits by 1998, as part of a plan to meet health standards for ozone (smog), but failed to follow through on its commitment.
“This is an important victory for public health,” said Earthjustice attorney David Baron. “Although it took a court order to make Pennsylvania officials adhere to Clean Air Act requirements, the citizens of Philadelphia will now be able to breathe cleaner, healthier air.”
“Pollution from cars and trucks is the biggest source of pollution in the Philadelphia area,” said Joe Minott, director of the Clean Air Council. “This important program goes a long way to reducing such pollution.”
The Philadelphia area has violated ozone standards for decades, placing thousands of residents at risk. Ozone is a severe lung irritant that damages lung tissue, reduces lung function, and causes symptoms such as chest pain, nausea, and pulmonary congestion. It has been linked to increased hospital and emergency room visits and asthma attacks. Children, the elderly, and those with lung ailments are particularly threatened.
Philadelphia’s approved clean air plan included a schedule for strengthening emissions testing in two phases. State officials had instituted the first phase, but not the second. The Court held that this delay violated the state’s legally binding promise under the Clean Air Act to apply the stronger limits.
The stronger emission limits are expected to be more effective in identifying cars, SUVs, and light trucks that are polluting more than they should. The EPA has found that such enhanced auto testing programs are very effective in reducing ozone-forming emissions from motor vehicles.
The order was issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Clean Air Council v. Mallory, No. 01-179 (E.D. Pa).
David Baron, Earthjustice Attorney, 202/667-4500
Joe Minott, Director, Clean Air Council, 215/567-4004, ext. 223