EDF, Health Associations, Leading States Go to Court to Argue for Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

D.C. Circuit hears oral argument in challenge to clean air protections

October 3, 2018
Shira Langer, 202-572-3254, slanger@edf.org
(Washington, D.C. – October 3, 2018) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) joined a broad coalition today to argue in support of an update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule – the landmark rule designed to protect downwind states from air pollution that blows across their borders.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument today in challenges to the rule – two years after those challenges were originally filed.

“Today’s argument underscored that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule provides vital clean air protections for downwind states and that upwind states must do their part to reduce pollution that harms their neighbors,” said Graham McCahan, Senior Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was created under the “Good Neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act. It reduces sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants across the eastern states. Those emissions, and the resulting particulate pollution and ozone – more commonly known as soot and smog – drift across state borders and contribute to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels of pollution in 22 downwind states

The Supreme Court upheld the original Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in April of 2014.

In September of 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an update to the rule to help states meet our nation’s 2008 health-based smog standard.
EPA estimates the updated rule will:

  • Prevent more than 67,000 asthma attacks each year
  • Prevent almost 56,000 days of missed school and work each year
  • Provide annual benefits of up to $880 million dollars
  • Provide American families with $13 in health benefits for every dollar invested  

Fossil fuel interests and five states sued EPA over the updated rule in 2016. EDF, along with the American Lung Association, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and Sierra Club intervened in support of the rule. Six states are also arguing in support of the rule – as is the Trump administration EPA. The Trump administration has been trying to undermine almost every other clean air protection, from America’s Clean Car Standards to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. In this lawsuit challenging the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule update, however, the Trump Administration did not abandon the legal defense of an important health protection for the American people as it has in a number of other cases.

You can read more about the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on EDF’s website.

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