Groups Sue EPA Over Missed Clean Air Deadlines

Environmental activists Tuesday filed the second of seven lawsuits against EPA for failing to establish controls\r\nfor highly toxic air pollutants.

Environmental activists Tuesday filed the second of seven lawsuits challenging the federal government''s "chronic failure to protect Americans from the health hazards of toxic air pollution."

The Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund said it filed suit against EPA, on behalf of the Sierra Club, for failing to establish controls for highly toxic air pollutants such as dioxins, PCBs and mercury.

Earthjustice said it would file a new lawsuit each day for seven days to "compel EPA to do its job."

The group claims EPA has not pinpointed certain sources of pollution, like chemical plants and waste incinerators, and has not developed a plan to curb air pollution, as set out in the Clean Air Act.

"This lawsuit challenges EPA''s failure to implement a key requirement in the Clean Air Act: the act''s mandate to reduce emissions of the hazardous air pollutants that are the greatest threat to public health in urban areas," Earthjustice said in a statement.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA was required to identify the relevant categories of smaller pollution sources by Nov. 15, 1995, and write regulations for them by Nov. 15, 2000.

"Almost six years after the statutory deadline, EPA still hasn''t even identified all the categories required," noted Dr. Bob Palzer, chair of Sierra Club''s Air Committee. "And of the 29 categories that EPA has identified, the agency has left 20 uncontrolled."

The most recent data from the National Air Toxics Assessment show that the vast majority of Americans are breathing hazardous air pollutants above levels considered safe by EPA.

EPA has issued no immediate response to the lawsuit.

by Virginia Sutcliffe-Foran

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