EPA Urged to Crack Down on States Over Pollution Rules
by Rebekah Kearn Court House News
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Though 10 states have shirked their duties under national air quality standards for lead, environmental regulators have not cracked down, activists claim in federal court.
"There is no safe level of exposure to lead," according to the complaint filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health.
Though the Environmental Protection agency originally set a level of 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter for the National Ambient Air Quality Standard in 1978, it allegedly reduced the level by 90 percent in 2008.
This change to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter occurred because a staff paper showed that exposure to high levels of airborne lead increased the risk of "population Intelligence Quotient ('IQ') loss in children and other sensitive groups," according to the complaint.
States allegedly have three years to submit infrastructure state implementation plans whenever the EPA revises National Ambient Air Quality Standards for pollutants.
After the standard was changed in 2008, the states had to submit their revised plans by Nov. 12, 2011, according to the complaint. Regulators allegedly get six months thereafter to determine if the plan meets federal standards.
But environmentalists say that the EPA is still waiting on plans from Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.
If a state fails to submit a plan, the EPA must make a finding of "failure to submit" and publish notice of this findings in the Federal Register, according to the complaint.
By not publishing this list, the EPA is withholding information about exposure to excessive levels of airborne lead and endangering public health, the groups say.
They claim that the EPA findings were due on May 12, 2012.
"On June 27, 2012, plaintiffs mailed to EPA by certified mail, return receipt requested, written notice of intent to sue regarding the violations alleged in this complaint," the complaint states. "EPA received this written notice on July 2, 2012. More than sixty days have passed since EPA received this 'notice of intent to sue' letter. EPA has not remedied the violations alleged in this complaint."
The groups ask the court to declare EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in violation of the Clean Air Act, and issue a mandatory injunction compelling Jackson to "perform her mandatory duties."
They are represented by Adam Keats, in-house counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity.
PDF: EPA Findings
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