U.S. EPA Proposal Does Nothing to Curb Acid Damage from Nitrogen and Sulfur Oxide Pollution

Existing standards are not protective enough


David Baron, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 ext. 203


Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 ext. 221

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed to do nothing to strengthen clean air standards for nitrogen and sulfur oxide pollution, despite advice from its staff and science advisors that stronger standards are needed to prevent dangerous acid levels in lakes and streams. Earthjustice and other conservation groups had urged the EPA to propose new standards recommended by its staff to limit acid deposition that threatens aquatic life in many of the nation’s waters. Instead, the EPA is proposing standards that provide no more protection than is already in place.

The following statement is from Earthjustice, Washington, D.C. Managing Attorney David Baron:

“This do-nothing proposal is indefensible. Many of the nation’s rivers and lakes suffer from dangerously high acid levels worsened by deposits from these air pollutants. In the Adirondacks, trout are missing from 44 percent of evaluated lakes due to acidification. In the Shenandoah area, 85 percent of streams have chronic acidity impacting fisheries.

“EPA’s own staff and science advisors say that current standards for nitrogen and sulfur oxide pollution aren’t adequate to remedy the problem. The National Park Service has urged EPA to adopt new, more protective standards to prevent acid damage from nitrogen and sulfur oxide pollution. Yet the EPA’s proposal requires no new pollution cuts at all, and no progress. This weak, no action proposal is profoundly disappointing from an administration that says it will base its decisions on the best science.

“We expect more from an agency charged with protecting our public health and environment. The EPA claims that its proposal contains ‘new standards,’ but in reality these standards add no new protection, simply mirroring those already in place.”

The EPA will accept comments on this proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register and is expected to issue a final rule by March 2012.

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