Enviro group sues EPA over particulate emissions in two states and Puerto Rico

The Center for Biological Diversity on Feb. 24 sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly failing to enforce air-quality standards that limit dangerous particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants, cars and other sources.

The lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to force the EPA to develop mandated air-quality plans to ensure that Iowa, Puerto Rico and Washington meet clean-air standards.

“The Clean Air Act has saved millions of lives and cleared our skies of the most toxic soot pollution, but the job isn’t done,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the center, in a Feb. 24 statement. “We need the EPA and the Obama administration to take these necessary actions to put us on the path to a cleaner, healthier future.” 

The EPA has failed to develop implementation plans to reduce soot pollution in Iowa, Puerto Rico and Washington more than eight years after air-quality standards were set for particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in 2006, the lawsuit said. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide, health-based standards for particulate pollution and sets mandatory deadlines to develop plans to achieve and maintain air-quality standards. The center’s lawsuit demands that the agency correct these violations in order to set up plans to reduce soot levels. 

Soot, also called particulate matter, is often produced through the burning of fossil fuels. In October 2014 the center reached an agreement with the EPA to enforce Clean Air Act standards limiting dangerous pollution from particulates in Los Angeles, Calif. and Fairbanks, Alaska. Since that time both California and Alaska have submitted plans to reduce soot pollution, the center noted.

In terms of coal-fired power, Puerto Rico has one coal-fired plant (of AES Corp.), Washington has one coal plant (TransAlta‘s Centralia plant, which is to be completely shut by 2025), and Iowa has several plants.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.