Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed suit June 11 asserting that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and the Maryland Division of State Documents unlawfully blocked a new clean air regulation designed to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that can result in smog.
The suit was filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.
The safeguard would protect public health by reducing nitrogen dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants that leads to harmful ozone levels like the Code Orange Day predicted for Baltimore and other Maryland localities on June 11, according to a news release from the plaintiffs.
The complaint states that less than half of the coal-fired generators in Maryland are equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, which are the “most effective” means for reducing NOx emissions.
“These protections would result in fewer new cases of asthma in children, fewer heart attacks in adults, and fewer deaths from respiratory illness. They would allow those suffering from this pollution to breathe a little easier,” said Gwen DuBois, an internist at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, a member of the board of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility and a member of the public health committee of The Maryland State Medical Society.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) adopted the safeguards on Jan. 16, 2015, after a more than year-long stakeholder process. Even though all but one stakeholder including the owner of three Maryland coal plants supported it, Gov. Hogan essentially tossed out the result of this process “without explanation,” according to the news release.