Today, the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), will conduct an oversight hearing on recent decisions at the Environmental Protection Agency. Among the issues the committee is scheduled to address includes EPA’s proposed changes to toxic air pollution standards for major pollution sources, which could allow thousands of major industrial facilities across the country to increase their toxic pollution.
The following is a statement by Earthjustice attorney James Pew. Earthjustice has represented a broad array of national and local public health and environmental groups in many cases challenging EPA’s failure to protect the public from toxic air pollution.
“We applaud the Senate EPW committee and Senator Boxer for making the EPA Administrator at last give some explanation for this agency’s attempts to allow polluters to increase their toxic emissions. Pollutants such as mercury, dioxins and PCBs continue to be emitted without any limitation whatsoever from thousands of unregulated facilities each year. They contaminate the air, the water, and the food we eat. We need to fix this problem. It is unfortunate that, under this Administration, EPA would allow it to get worse.
“In July 2006, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that blasted EPA for failing to take action on scores of specific pollution control measures that Congress required the agency to complete years ago. Later that summer, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that EPA’s implementation of key toxics requirements in the Clean Air Act has been ‘grossly delinquent’ and that, ‘EPA … currently devotes substantial resources to discretionary rulemakings, many of which make existing regulations more congenial to industry, and several of which since have been found unlawful.’
“From power plants to plywood manufacturers, many industries have lobbied this Administration for loopholes and have been rewarded with rules that allow them to continue emitting levels of toxic air pollution that threaten our health and damage our environment. Today’s hearing will hopefully shed some light on why EPA has chosen to so faithfully serve the financial interests of corporate polluters and so badly disserve the public interest in a safe and health environment.”