Nearly Half the States Sue EPA Over New Limits on Pollution - MIRATECH

Nearly Half the States Sue EPA Over New Limits on Pollution

March 6, 2024

Manufacturers and 24 states sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, March 6 over the Biden administration’s decision to tighten limits on fine industrial particles, one of the most common forms of air pollution, according to a story from The New York Times.

The state lawsuits are led by Republican attorneys general and argue that the E.P.A. overstepped its authority last month when it lowered the annual limits for fine particulate matter to nine micrograms per cubic meter of air, down from the current standard of 12 micrograms.

It was the first time in a decade that the E.P.A. had made it harder for power plants, factories and other polluting facilities to spew fine particulate matter. The tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 because they are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease, asthma and low birth weight.

Michael S. Regan, the E.P.A. administrator, has said the new rule would prevent an estimated 4,500 premature deaths every year, as well as 290,000 lost workdays because of illness. The E.P.A. maintained that the rule also would deliver as much as $46 billion in net health benefits in the first year that the standards are fully implemented.

But the attorneys general said the change would raise costs for manufacturers, utilities and the public. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers filed a separate petition to overturn the regulation. They argued the E.P.A. broke the law by revising the standard without considering “the tremendous costs and burdens,” of its decision, Linda Kelly, the association’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.

Both petitions were filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The lawsuits are part of a campaign led by Republican attorneys general to fight President Biden’s environmental regulations and to weaken the federal government’s ability to regulate industry. They also amount to an election-year attack on Mr. Biden’s campaign message that he is reviving American manufacturing.

“This rule will drive jobs and investment out of Kentucky and overseas, leaving employers and hardworking families to pay the price,” Russell Coleman, Kentucky’s attorney general, said in a statement. Ms. Kelly charged that the regulation “undermines the Biden administration’s manufacturing agenda — stifling manufacturing investment, infrastructure development and job creation in communities across the country.”

Nick Conger, a spokesman for the E.P.A., declined to comment on the lawsuits.

Over the next two years, the E.P.A. is expected to use air sampling to identify areas that do not meet the new standard. States would then have 18 months to develop compliance plans for those areas. By 2032, any that exceed the new standard could face penalties. The Republican attorneys general said that as many as 30 percent of all counties could be out of compliance with the new rule. E.P.A. officials said that they estimate that as few as 59 counties might exceed the new standard.

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce voted along party lines to advance a Republican bill that would make it more difficult for the E.P.A. to set new health standards for air pollution. Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the committee, called the bill a “compilation of misguided handouts to corporate polluters” and predicted it would not become law.

States joining Kentucky in the lawsuit include West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

While all of the states are led by Republican attorneys general, Kentucky and Kansas have Democratic governors, and both had written to the Biden administration before the regulation was finalized to seek changes.