Weak Air Quality Plan for New York Challenged by Conservation Groups

Coal plant technology upgrades needed to comply with Clean Air Act


Charles McPhedran, Earthjustice, (215) 206-0352


Kim Teplitzky, Sierra Club, (267) 307-4707


Jeff Billington, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 419-3717

Conservation groups last week appealed weak air pollution requirements recently approved for the state of New York by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The groups are challenging EPA’s decision to approve a federal implementation plan for emissions of haze-forming pollutants from the Danskammer coal-fired power plant under the Clean Air Act’s regional haze rule. The proposed limits for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) do not meet the level of stringency required by the Clean Air Act.

Earthjustice filed the appeal on behalf of the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Danskammer is the last large coal plant in New York without modern pollution safeguards.  This week’s lawsuit seeks to remedy this deficiency and reduce the plant’s haze-forming SO2 and NOx emissions by requiring that the plant install the best available controls for SO2 and NOx.

“Danskammer needs significant upgrades to meet air pollution requirements, and EPA’s plan simply does not do the job,” said Charles McPhedran, an Earthjustice attorney. “It is unacceptable to allow coal plants like Danskammer to continue to dirty the air when better technology is readily available.”

Also this week, the Sierra Club released new maps demonstrating that sulfur dioxide emissions from the Danskammer coal plant could cause violations of the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard across six counties and over Storm King State Park, Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park and Bear Mountain State Park. In order for the plant to cut its allowable emissions by the necessary 94% to meet safe air standards it would likely need to install additional pollution safeguards.

About Regional Haze:
In 1977, Congress set a national goal of clean, haze-free air in our country’s treasured national parks and wilderness areas. But the EPA and the states have repeatedly dragged their feet and delayed complying with the law. Congress was so frustrated with delays by the EPA and the states that Congress amended the law in 1990 to speed up the protections for air quality. Thirty-five years after Congress set a goal of reducing air pollution in our national parks and wilderness areas, the EPA is only now acting on New York’s regional haze plan.

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

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.