Press Release

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Strong Health Standards for Soot Emissions

WASHINGTON  (May 9, 2014)—A federal appeals court today unanimously upheld EPA’s latest health-based clean air standards for fine particulate matter, or soot. Inhaling soot pollution can have serious health consequences, ranging from increased asthma attacks, to heart attacks and premature death.

The following is a statement by John Walke, Clean Air Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“This is, literally, a life-saving ruling for thousands upon thousands of Americans who would die prematurely from lung and heart problems caused by these tiny particles. EPA was vindicated in this case, as it has been in others recently, because it based its safeguards on science and the law, not industry propaganda. That’s a victory for all Americans.”

The decision came from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, summarily rejecting challenges to EPA’s safeguards under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The agency finalized updated health standards for soot pollution in December of 2012 as part of its periodic review of national air quality standards.

These updated standards are estimated to provide $4 billion to $9.1 billion in health benefits to the American public once implemented. Today’s unanimous Court of Appeals decision decisively rejected a number of attacks on these standards by industry groups. The short 11-page decision summarily dismissed industry’s claims, and in so doing, strongly affirmed EPA’s discretion to set strong, protective air quality standards for the American public.

In recent weeks EPA’s efforts to protect public health, based on sound science, have been upheld in two other major court cases: safeguards to protect the health of people who live downwind from power plant smokestacks in other states, and limits on the emissions of mercury and other dangerous toxins from power plants.

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