New York and 10 other states filed a lawsuit last Friday designed to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue new regulations on soot pollution.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan comes after the federal agency failed to meet a statutory October deadline to revise soot standards. Soot is produced by diesel vehicles and power plants and has been linked to chronic respiratory disease, impaired lung function, heart disease and asthma.
“Every day, air pollution, from soot risks the health of more than one-third of Americans, including our most vulnerable — children, the elderly and the sick,” Schneiderman said in a prepared statement. “These risks are simply unacceptable. The EPA must take prompt action to reduce pollution now, and safeguard the health of the public and the air we breathe.”
The other states in the lawsuit are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
In 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled for New York and 15 other states that challenged the national air quality standards for soot. The court returned the standards to the EPA for reconsideration and the agency said it would revise soot standards as part of its next five-year review under statute by the Oct. 17, 2011 deadline, according to the attorney general.
Schneiderman said the agency never proposed revised soot standards.
“EPA is continuing to work on proposing the PM 2.5 standards,” said Betsaida Alcantara, an EPA spokeswoman based at headquarters in Washington.
Soot is also known as particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or smaller, or “PM 2.5.”
Environmental groups applauded the move.
“The science is overwhelming that EPA should set tougher new standards to limit the amount of deadly fine particle soot in the air,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of the environmental advocacy group Clean Air Watch. “All the studies have been completed and reviewed. But the Obama administration is dragging its feet.”