Group Wins Public Health Benefits in ICC Suit Settlement

November 17, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
Contact:
Michael Replogle, 301-529-0351-c, mreplogle@edf.org
Sean Crowley, 202-572-3331, scrowley@edf.org
 
(Washington, DC - November 17, 2008) Maryland has settled a suit filed by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) over the controversial Intercounty Connector (ICC) by agreeing to vital public health benefits to offset the impacts of air pollution generated by the highway.
 
EDF’s suit alleged that state and federal agencies violated the Clean Air Act and other federal laws when they approved the ICC, a multi-billion dollar, six-lane, 18-mile toll highway connecting I-95 and US-1 in Prince George’s County with I-270/I-370 in Montgomery County. 
 
As part of the settlement, the Maryland State Highway Administration agreed to invest a total of $2 million to:
  1. Reduce air pollution from school buses in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
  2. Install new monitoring equipment that will provide new insight into how fine soot pollution from traffic affects public health for those living, working, or attending schools near major highways in the Washington, DC region.
 
As its part of the settlement, EDF agreed to withdraw its appeal of a September 2007 federal district court ruling that upheld federal approval of the ICC.
 
“This settlement will help offset some of the adverse effects of the ICC on public health,” said Dr. John Balbus, EDF’s Chief Health Scientist and a member of the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. β€œIt also will provide important data on levels of fine particulate air pollution near high traffic volume roads like I-95. This pollution contributes to premature death, respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease in children and adults who live, work, or go to schools near major highways.”
 
”We hope this settlement will persuade the state in the future to consider more cost-effective transportation investments that would better relieve traffic congestion, not to build highways like the ICC that negatively impact public health, streams, parks, global warming, and nearby communities,” said Michael Replogle, EDF’s Transportation Director, a former consultant for the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and former transportation coordinator for Montgomery County.   “Although the state has only begun construction, cost overruns for the ICC are foreclosing important transportation investments across Maryland and already have forced delays in parts of the ICC project itself.”
 
“The ICC remains an imprudent investment choice that, if completed, will promote sprawl and global warming pollution,” concluded Replogle. “If the ICC construction continues, it also will offset many of the positive initiatives the state is taking to address climate change and to counter degradation of the Chesapeake Bay and the Anacostia watershed.”
 
More information on the impacts of the ICC can be found at: http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?ContentID=4220
 
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Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. For more information, visit www.edf.org.