Maryland Joins Lawsuit:

Nine States Mount Legal Challenge to US Decision to Relax Air Quality Standards

from Wire Service Reports

Attorneys general in nine states in New England and the Mid-Atlantic region, including Maryland, have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbiato challenge the Bush administration's decision to relax national industrial pollution restrictions. This is the first time standards have been lowered since the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1970.

The plaintiffs claim that the administration's rule-making greatly exceeds its authority under the Act and, if allowed to be implemented, will undermine state efforts to adopt stricter protections.

The legal challenge was mounted after the Environmental Protection Agency issued its final formal revisions to the “New Source Review” clean air enforcement rules. If implemented as planned, the revisions severely preclude future government legal action in all but the most flagrant cases of pollution.

The new rules, which would go into effect later this year unless struck down by the courts, would allow refineries, manufacturers and some utilities to upgrade or expand their plants without upgrading their facilities to improve pollution control. Older, coal-fired power plants—considered among the worst air polluters—would be able to sidestep the old rules.

In addition to Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont have joined in the lawsuit.

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This story was published on January 8, 2003.