EDF Defends Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” Provisions in Two D.C. Circuit Cases

January 16, 2020
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – January 16, 2020) Environmental Defense Fund is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to protect people in downwind states from dangerous pollution in two parallel cases.

The cases both involve the “Good Neighbor” provisions of the Clean Air Act. Under those provisions, EPA must safeguard downwind states against smog-forming pollution from coal-fired power plants and other sources in upwind states. However, the Trump EPA has repeatedly refused downwind states’ requests for help.

“Smog does not respect state lines. The states that are struggling to reduce smog are often undermined by polluted air from their neighbors,” said EDF attorney Liana James. “Smog can cause asthma attacks, lung damage and premature death. EPA should enforce the Good Neighbor provisions of the Clean Air Act so states get the help they need to protect families.”

This morning, the D.C. Circuit will hear oral argument about EPA’s denial of Good Neighbor petitions from Maryland and Delaware. The two states asked EPA for help with smog blowing across their borders from coal plant smokestacks in upwind states, but the agency refused. Maryland and Delaware are suing to force EPA to reconsider that decision.

The states of New Jersey and New York and the city of New York are intervening on their behalf, as are EDF, the Adirondack Council, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Clean Air Council, Environmental Integrity Project and Sierra Club. Oral argument begins at 9:30 this morning before Judges Garland, Henderson and Katsas.

Argument in that case happens just days after EDF and its allies filed a brief with the D.C. Circuit in a second lawsuit against EPA over smog-forming pollution from upwind states. New York, New York City and New Jersey also asked for help under the Good Neighbor provisions of the Clean Air Act and EPA denied their petition.

EDF, the Adirondack Council and Sierra Club are intervening in that case in support of the states. The groups filed their opening brief with the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday.

In it, they state:

“EPA’s decision disregards the Clean Air Act’s “central object” — the timely attainment of air quality standards to reduce health and environmental harms — andabdicates the federal responsibility built into the Act to assist downwind states suffering from transboundary pollution … EPA’s Denial of New York’s petition is unlawful and unreasonable and should be set aside.” (Brief, page 1)

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