Court Decision Upholding EPA Regulation Will Clean Up Air in Northeast, says NRDC

Group Calls it a Major Victory for Environment and Public Health

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2001) - Today's U.S. court of appeals decision upholding an Environmental Protection Agency regulation reducing industrial pollution from the Midwest and Southeast will bring welcome relief to residents in Northeastern states, said NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

"This is a major victory for the environment and public health," said John Walke, an NRDC attorney. "The ruling upholds EPA's ability to target smog at its source when it is carried across the country into states that are powerless to control it. The court soundly rejected polluter efforts to deny clean air to tens of millions of Americans."

In 1997, Northeastern states petitioned EPA under the Clean Air Act to require pollution controls on grandfathered power plants and industrial boilers in the Midwest and Southeast. EPA agreed with the petitioners and issued regulations to reduce pollution from these sources. NRDC and other environmental groups supported the petitioning states and defended the regulation in court when polluters and upwind states challenged EPA.

The appeals court today also requested EPA to reconsider two technical issues regarding how the rule will cover certain industrial pollution sources. NRDC believes the agency will be able to respond to the court's instructions in time to put the regulation's pollution control standards into effect by 2003.

"We urge EPA Administrator Whitman to move forward promptly with the portions of the rule upheld by the court," Walke said. "We also call upon EPA to resolve the remaining technical issues so Americans can enjoy the benefits of the rule as quickly as possible."

As part of the final rule, EPA had found that a significant percentage of the air pollution in the Northeast comes from out-of-state sources. For example, nearly a third of Philadelphia's smog and some 28 percent of New York City's smog come from outside the Northeast.