EDF, Allies Sue over EPA Smog Decision that Puts Millions in Maryland and Delaware in Danger

Groups Join Maryland, Ask Court to Review EPA Denial of States’ Clean Air Petitions

October 19, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – October 19, 2018) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and a coalition of health, environmental, and citizens groups today asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision that puts millions in Maryland and Delaware at a higher health risk from smog.


Maryland and Delaware had asked EPA for help with smog blowing across their borders from coal plant smokestacks in upwind states, but EPA denied the request. Maryland filed a lawsuit challenging that decision last week. Today EDF and its allies filed a similar lawsuit with the court.


“The Clean Air Act is clear that EPA must protect downwind states from dangerous air pollution that is encroaching on them from coal plants in neighboring states. EPA’s denial of Maryland and Delaware’s petitions shirks that responsibility, and prevents states from providing the cleanest and safest air possible for their citizens,” said EDF Senior Attorney Graham McCahan.


Smog is linked to premature deaths, hospitalizations, asthma attacks and long-term lung damage. States that are working to reduce smog are often undermined by dirtier air that blows across their borders – about 70 percent of Maryland’s smog problem originates from air pollution in upwind states, for instance.


Under the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” safeguards, EPA has an obligation to reduce smog-forming pollution from upwind coal power plants in other states. Maryland filed a petition under those Good Neighbor provisions asking EPA to require upwind coal plants to operate their already-installed pollution controls during the summer ozone season. Delaware also filed four separate Good Neighbor petitions asking EPA for relief from upwind coal plant emissions that were contributing to their smog problem.


EPA dragged its feet and did not answer the petitions for months, compelling Maryland’s Attorney General to file suit. (EDF and a coalition of health, environmental, and Maryland citizens groups also filed suit in support of Maryland.)


On June 13 the U.S. District Court ordered EPA to act on Maryland’s petition, saying it was “troubled by EPA’s apparent unwillingness or inability to comply with its mandatory statutory duties within the timeline set by Congress.” (Opinion, page 14).


Then last month EPA denied Maryland’s petition, along with similar petitions from Delaware. Maryland is now asking the court to review that decision.


The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Adirondack Council, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Clean Air Council, Environmental Integrity Project, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club joined EDF in today’s petition in support of Maryland and Delaware.

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