by Max Brantley
The Sierra Club has sued the Environmental Protection Agency for dragging its feet on approving the state's clean air plan. Until the EPA approves it, the plan can't be enforced. The plan is particularly important in regulating sooty emissions from coal-fired power plants.
SIERRA CLUB NEWS RELEASE
Today, the Sierra Club filed suit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to defend and protect Arkansas’ air quality. The suit calls on EPA Administrator Jackson to issue a final decision approving or disapproving of Arkansas’ proposed State Air Plan designed to address visibility impairment, an action which EPA has failed to take within the deadline imposed by the federal Clean Air Act (CAA).
Lev Guter, Associate Field Organizer for the Sierra Club stated, “It is astounding that the EPA has sat on Arkansas’ state air plan for months without taking action. It needs to know that Arkansas is a top priority for the federal agency, and today the Sierra Club is sending EPA that message.”
The State’s air plan is not federally enforceable without EPA’s approval. Until then, Arkansas will be left with an air plan for addressing visibility impairment in limbo, to the detriment of Arkansas’ air quality and public health. The Plan would regulate harmful emissions from dirty coal plants that spew soot, create acid rain and increase smog.
Lev Guter continued to remark, “Arkansas must have a strong air plan that will protect our vulnerable populations from soot and smog. Especially children and the elderly must have a set of regulations in place to ensure their air quality is the best it can be. An air plan is worthless if it is not enforceable, and every day EPA drags its feet, Arkansans are suffering from poorer air quality. A plan that is not enforceable is a plan without teeth.”
Arkansas’s air plan would require many major pollution sources in Arkansas, including several large coal plants, to take a series of substantial steps to reduce emissions of visibility impairing pollutants, including fine particulates (soot), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Beyond their impacts on visibility, emissions of such pollutants wreak havoc on the environment and public health.
According to the Clean Air Act, EPA Administrator Jackson was required to approve or disapprove Arkansas’ Air Plan by March 22, 2010. Unfortunately, Administrator Jackson failed to take action by that deadline. Because the Administrator has failed to comply with her mandatory duty, Sierra Club has filed this lawsuit to force Administrator Jackson to follow the law.