3:50pm

Tue August 7, 2012
Environmental Watchdog

Environmentalists Sue for Strict Haze Reduction

Environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency, in hopes they can force federal regulators to crack down on air pollution in national parks. The groups—including Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and the National Parks Conservation Association—filed a lawsuit in federal court this week.

The EPA  tried to put a rule reducing pollution that crosses state lines on the books last summer—the aptly-named Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. But several states and industry groups challenged it, and now the rule is held up in court.

Environmental groups generally support the rule, but they see a glaring problem with it.

Abigail Dillon of Earthjustice says even if the EPA and the Cross-State rule prevail, there are loopholes that will allow many states to avoid cracking down on coal-fired power plants by instead trading pollution credits with other states.

Dillon says her organization supports EPA’s efforts to control air pollution, but:

“Exempting half of the country from one of the most of the most important requirements—and that is cleaning up the coal-fired power plants that are causing the problem—has been a real step backward and we hope we can get the agency back on track with this lawsuit,” she said.

As it’s written, Dillon says the rule will do little to alleviate smog in national parks.

If Earthjustice and the other groups succeed, the EPA or the states will have to impose clean-up requirements on aging coal plants. Coal burning is a leading cause of smog.