D.C. Circuit Court considers national, health-based standards for soot

February 20, 2014
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – February 20, 2014) America’s ability to limit a particularly dangerous type of air pollution will be under scrutiny today in an appeals court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments about national standards for particulate pollution – better known as soot.

“Soot causes serious heart and lung diseases, including heart attacks, asthma attacks, and even premature death,” said Dr. Elena Craft, a health scientist at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which is a party in the case. “America’s leading public health and medical societies agree that soot pollution is cutting short Americans’ lives. We need to move forward with common sense solutions that reduce soot levels, so we can protect our families and communities.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized clean air standards for particulate pollution in December of 2012. The standards strengthen annual limits for particulate pollution, in line with a compelling body of the scientific evidence demonstrating that a previous standard was not sufficient to protect public health.   

EPA’s standards also include important monitoring provisions to ensure all communities across America benefit from these important health protections.

Opponents of the new standards sued. The standards themselves and the monitoring provisions are both being challenged in court.

Supporters of the health-based standards, including the American Lung Association, Earthjustice and EDF, are defending the need to limit soot.

“EPA’s standards for particulate pollution are based on rigorous science and are firmly grounded in the law,” said EDF attorney Peter Zalzal. “We believe today’s argument will provide strong reasons for upholding these vital, health-based Clean Air Act protections.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court will hear arguments in the case today. Judges Tatel, Brown, and Kavanaugh are on the panel.

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