Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 19, 2017


Robert Ukeiley, (720) 496-8568, 

Court Orders Trump’s EPA to Clean Up Deadly Soot Pollution in Six States

Ruling Affects Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey  

WASHINGTON— In response to a lawsuit filed by two conservation groups, a federal judge has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce deadly soot pollution in Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

The Clean Air Act lawsuit was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health.

In Monday’s ruling the court found that the Scott Pruitt-led EPA is illegally delaying measures to reduce dangerous soot pollution generated in these states. The court ordered Pruitt to take action within 12 months for New Jersey and within 90 days for the other five states to get plans in place to reduce the spread of soot.

Research has shown that exposure to the fine particulate matter that makes up soot triggers asthma and bronchitis and increases the risk of death from heart disease and lung cancer.

“The fewer particles of dangerous soot we release into the air, the fewer people die and get sick,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney in the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. “We refuse to allow Pruitt to continue protecting polluting industries when we have the technology to win the war against soot.”

The Clean Air Act requires that states have plans in place to make sure that upwind states do not contribute significantly to air pollution problems in other states. States were supposed to have plans in place by December 2015 to prevent significant emissions of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns — about 30 times smaller than a human hair. The human body has no means of preventing particles that small from getting directly into the lungs and blood stream.

When a state falls behind in designing and implementing the protective measures, the Clean Air Act mandates that the EPA take action to force compliance.

“There’s no question that soot can kill people, as well as cause heart attacks, strokes and childhood asthma and bronchitis,” said Ukeiley. “With such high stakes, we are going to continue to use the courts to resist Pruitt’s endless attempts at delay.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Environmental Health works with parents, communities, businesses, workers, and government to protect children and families from toxic chemicals in homes, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods.

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