Appeals Court Again Denies Industry Attempts to Halt Good Neighbor Clean Air Plan
(Washington, D.C. – October 11, 2023) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected another attempt by industrial polluters to halt the Good Neighbor Plan, EPA’s vital pollution-reduction standards that protect people from interstate smog.
EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan is designed to protect people in downwind states from the health-harming pollution that blows over their borders from coal-fired power plant smokestacks and other industrial sources in nearby states. Today, for the second time, the D.C. Circuit denied an industry request for a stay of the plan. Last month, a previous court order denied a request by power companies and coal interests to block these crucial air pollution limits.
“These court decisions mean millions of people will continue to be protected from dangerous industrial pollution that’s emitted by smokestacks in neighboring states,” said Noha Haggag, a clean air attorney for Environmental Defense Fund, which was a party to the case. “EPA’s common-sense limits on industrial air pollution will help millions of people breathe easier. Today’s ruling once again highlights the solid legal foundation of the Good Neighbor Plan, as well as being a victory for public health.”
The Good Neighbor Plan requires power plants, including coal plants, and other industrial polluters in upwind states to decrease their nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution, which contributes to unhealthy levels of smog in nearby states. That smog can affect communities hundreds of miles downwind as well as people who live near the polluting facilities.
Smog is a caustic pollutant that is linked to serious heart and lung diseases and premature deaths. It is especially dangerous for children as their lungs are still developing, but also poses an increased risk to people with asthma, the elderly, and people who are active outdoors. EPA estimates the Good Neighbor Rule will save at least one thousand lives and prevent more than one million asthma attacks each year when it is fully implemented.
Opponents filed lawsuits in several courts to overturn the Good Neighbor Rule, and they also have asked the courts to issue stays – which would halt the rule from being enforced while the cases are considered. The D.C. Circuit’s decisions denying a stay means the Good Neighbor Plan will be in effect for the duration of the litigation in that court. Other stay requests and litigation are still pending in some other courts.
EDF joined a coalition of environmental, environmental justice and health groups to defend the Good Neighbor Rule in the D.C. Circuit. The coalition includes Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Clean Air Council, and Clean Wisconsin represented by Clean Air Task Force, and Air Alliance Houston, Appalachian Mountain Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Downwinders at Risk, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, represented by Earthjustice.
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