Groups Ask Supreme Court to Let Air Pollution Cleanup Go Forward

EPA safeguard rejected by lower court would prevent thousands of deaths each year


Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5221

Today, environmental groups filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let air pollution cleanup go forward under a 2011 federal rule that would prevent thousands of premature deaths each year. The groups, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and various states, asked the Supreme Court to reverse a court of appeals decision invalidating the rule.

If allowed to take effect, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would require cleanup of soot and smog pollution from power plants in more than two dozen states, producing huge benefits for human health and the environment. According to the EPA, the rule would every year prevent 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits, 19,000 episodes of acute bronchitis, 420,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms, 400,000 episodes of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million days of missed work or school.

The agency also projects that the rule’s pollution reductions will improve visibility in national and state parks, and help protect sensitive ecosystems including Adirondack lakes and Appalachian streams, coastal waters and estuaries, and forests.

“This crucial safeguard will offer protection from some of our nation’s deadliest air pollution,” said Howard Fox of Earthjustice, which is co-counsel for Environmental Defense Fund in the case. “The Clean Air Act requires cleanup of pollution that crosses state lines and harms other states’ ability to meet national air quality standards designed to safeguard public health and the environment. Why would we pass up a chance to prevent thousands of premature deaths each and every year?”

The brief was filed in American Lung Assn. v. EME Homer City Generation, S.Ct. No. 12-1183. The docket number for EPA’s appeal is USEPA v. EME Homer City Generation, S.Ct. No. 12-1182.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected by June 2014.

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