New York, Connecticut and a coalition of environmental organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday against EPA stating that the agency''s mobile source air toxics rule falls far short of fulfilling legal requirements of the Clean Air Act.
Spearheading the litigation are Sierra Club, Earthjustice, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Natural Resources Defense Council and Attorneys General of New York and Connecticut.
The Clean Air Act required EPA to reduce by 1995 the threat of toxic air pollutants from mobile sources, such as cars, trucks, buses, boats, snowmobiles, construction equipment, aircraft and lawn equipment, and motor vehicle fuels.
The final rule, adopted in December 2000 and released by EPA in March 2001, adopts no new controls on toxic emissions from motor vehicles or motor vehicle fuels.
The lawsuit alleges that the final rule released in March would leave hundreds of millions of Americans unnecessarily exposed to known human carcinogens like benzene.
"It is crucial to public health that EPA set effective standards to reduce these toxic pollutants," said Jim Pew, an attorney with Earthjustice, which is representing the environmental groups in court. "But EPA''s regulations do nothing. In fact, they allow emissions of the worst pollutants to increase."
According to the green groups, EPA estimates that motor vehicles, construction equipment, lawn and garden equipment and other mobile sources emitted 1.6 million tons of toxins in 1996.
According to an EPA study, more than 250 million people nationally are subject to an unacceptable cancer risk due to mobile source toxic pollutants.
"Communities throughout New York, particularly heavily congested neighborhoods, are hard hit by toxic air pollution from cars and trucks.
EPA''s failure to adopt timely, comprehensive, and common sense regulations to reduce these pollutants is unacceptable. As a result, I am filing this lawsuit to protect the health of all New Yorkers," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
The final rule, "Control of Emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants from Mobile Sources," was issued by EPA in response to a Sierra Club lawsuit designed to enforce provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act.
The act stated that EPA should promulgate regulations containing requirements to control hazardous air pollutants from motor vehicles and motor vehicle fuels. However, the final rule provides no reductions whatsoever and postponed the decision on whether or not to require additional controls until July 2004.
Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General of Connecticut said, "Tragically, EPA has done nothing to act against the toxic air pollutants from mobile sources -- virtually ignoring its authority under the Clean Air Act for more than 10 years. For the sake of our health and breathing, EPA must take positive steps to help curb toxins from these sources."
by Virginia Sutcliffe