Maryland Sues EPA Administrator Pruitt for Failure to Protect Its Citizens from Cross-State Air Pollution

EDF Plans to Join Litigation in Support of Maryland

September 27, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, D.C. – September 27, 2017) The state of Maryland filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Administrator Scott Pruitt today for the agency’s failure to protect Marylanders from the dangerous smokestack air pollution that is blowing across its borders and putting millions of people’s health at risk.

Maryland petitioned EPA months ago asking the agency to enforce the “good neighbor” provisions of the Clean Air Act to protect Marylanders from second-hand pollution. EPA never answered the petition. 

Maryland filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland today. In a bipartisan show of support for clean, healthy air, Republican Governor Larry Hogan and Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh joined together to challenge Administrator Pruitt for his failure to take steps to protect the health of Maryland families. EDF plans to join the litigation in support of Maryland.

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s refusal to do his duty and enforce America’s clean air laws is putting the lives and health of millions of Marylanders and people throughout the region at risk,” said EDF Senior Attorney Graham McCahan. “We stand with Maryland, and we’ll ask the court to ensure Administrator Pruitt carries out his legal and moral responsibilities to keep Americans safe from dangerous pollution.” 

The Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” protections exist to protect states like Maryland from upwind air pollution originating in other states.

Maryland’s Department of Environment has spent decades trying to reduce smog and other dangerous pollution in the state. However, pollution from 36 coal-fired units in five upwind states is undermining Maryland’s efforts, adding to its smog problem, and afflicting communities and families. Those power plants all have modern pollution controls – but are not running them. 

About 70 percent of Maryland’s smog problem originates from emissions in upwind states. Smog is associated with premature deaths, hospitalizations, asthma attacks and long-term lung damage. Smog-forming pollution that blows across state lines imperils the health of millions of people who live downwind – especially children, the elderly, people with respiratory disease, and those working and active outside, who are especially vulnerable.

In November, Maryland submitted a petition under section 126 of the Clean Air Act – a section that is a central part of the Act’s “Good Neighbor” provisions. The petition asked EPA to find that pollution from specified coal plant units in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia is violating those Good Neighbor protections because their smokestack pollution is contributing to unhealthy air in Maryland. 

The petition asked EPA to require those power plant units to take the common sense step of running their already-installed pollution controls every day during smog season, which runs from May 1 through September 30. EPA never responded to Maryland’s petition, even though it is legally required to do so.

You can read Maryland’s full petition here – it includes a list of the power plants that are not fully running their already-installed pollution controls. Connecticut and Delaware also have Good Neighbor petitions pending before EPA that focus on pollution from upwind power plants. 

EDF plans to file legal action in support of Maryland, along with a coalition of other environmental and community organizations.

EDF has also published two interactive maps that show the pollution from each electric generating unit identified in Maryland’s original “good neighbor” petition. The maps show how much excess pollution is being emitted from these units, and illustrates the air quality challenges facing communities and ecosystems in Maryland and throughout the region.

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