News | July 7, 2015

Court rejects NC challenge to soot pollution standards

In a win today for the people of North Carolina and everyone across the country who suffers health problems due to soot pollution, the D.C. Circuit Court rejected North Carolina’s challenge to federal standards that protect people from increases in dangerous fine particle pollution.
In 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency instituted new protections to limit increases in fine particle pollution, which comes from a number of sources, including coal-fired power plants and motor vehicles, and is linked to significant health problems.
North Carolina waited over three years to challenge the baseline pollution levels set by the standards, seeking more lenient pollution levels. No other state joined North Carolina in their challenge. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit announced today it rejected the challenge because it was not filed within the statute of limitations.

“Fine particle pollution is linked to over two million premature deaths around the globe each year, and there is no level of exposure that is considered safe. That’s why local citizen groups representing over 15,000 North Carolinians joined forces to oppose the state’s lawsuit. This has been a tremendous waste of North Carolina’s limited resources, as the state chose to expend valuable time and energy challenging an important public health protection, even though it knew the filing deadline has already passed,” said SELC Attorney Myra Blake.

SELC represented Clean Air Carolina, North Carolina Coastal Federation, and Mountain True to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of the federal government.

Seth Johnson, attorney at Earthjustice, represented the Sierra Club in the case and offered this view of the ruling:

“We’re glad the Court rejected North Carolina’s attempt to undermine the public health protections the Clean Air Act guarantees every person living here. Soot kills, and EPA established solid protections against it. North Carolina’s efforts to put profits over people’s lungs rightly failed,” he said.

Read this Charlotte Observer story for more background on this case.