ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 22, 2002) -- Governor Parris N. Glendening and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Maryland will file a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency challenging new rules announced today by EPA that will weaken the Clean Air Act.
The changes in the Clean Air Act announced by the Bush Administration would allow many industrial facilities, including coal-fired power plants, to escape review under the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act. New Source Review (NSR) requires industrial facilities to add modern pollution controls when they are upgraded or modified.
“It is unacceptable that the EPA wants to relax key provisions of the Clean Air Act, like the New Source Review program,” said Governor Glendening. “Maryland’s air quality is greatly affected by pollution floating in from other states. On Maryland’s worst air pollution days, well over half of the pollutants can come from power plants and other sources in upwind states. Weakening air pollution laws will allow those states to continue to poison our citizens and the Chesapeake Bay.”
“Maryland will take whatever action necessary to ensure that any changes to the existing Clean Air Act NSR program do not put the health of our citizens or the Chesapeake Bay at greater risk,” said Attorney General Curran.
The lawsuit will allege that EPA is exceeding its authority and violating Congressional intent by enacting rules that weaken the Clean Air Act. When Congress passed the Act in 1970, its intention was to improve the environment and protect public health by lowering levels of pollution. The new rules announced today by EPA would allow air pollution levels to rise.
New Source Review is the foundation of a series of lawsuits by state attorneys general, including Curran, and the federal government against coal-fired power plants - the nation’s largest source of emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). These emissions contribute to a number of environmental problems including ground level ozone (the primary component of urban smog), fine particulate matter (which causes respiratory distress and even premature mortality), and acid rain (which damages lakes, streams and forests).
Currently, approximately 90 percent of Maryland residents live in non-attainment areas and breathe air in violation of the health standard for ozone. EPA analysis of the transport of ozone into Maryland found that eleven jurisdictions outside of Maryland’s boundaries significantly contribute to unhealthy ozone concentrations within the State.
The lawsuit will be filed in federal court in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The case will be filed when the regulations are published in the Federal Register.