Delaware one of almost a dozen states suing EPA

Delaware, along with 11 other states, are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to properly regulate health-hazardous soot pollution.

Soot pollution, also known as fine particulate matter pollution or “PM 2.5,” is produced by sources like diesel vehicles and power plants. Breathing it in has been linked to an increased risk of early death, heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits for people with asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes — with children, the elderly and people suffering with lung disease being the most susceptible.

Attorneys General filed the lawsuit Friday in federal district court in New York. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden says the states are asking the court to direct the EPA to propose, finalize and adopt new soot pollution standards, as required under the federal Clean Air Act.  

“The health of our environment has a direct impact on the health of our families,” said Biden. “The EPA must do its job to reduce pollution, improve air quality, and protect the well-being of Delawareans and all Americans.”

But this is not the first time states have taken the EPA to court. The EPA last updated national air quality standards for several pollutants, including soot, back in October, 2006. However, Delaware and 16 other states challenged those standards as lax and being adopted against the advice of EPA staff and an independent scientific advisory committee. That challenge landed them in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which sided with the states. Consequently, the EPA said it would issue new standards at its next air quality standard review.

The EPA is required to review and, if needed, revise national air quality standards every five years under the Clean Air Act. The deadline was Oct. 17, 2011, and it passed without any action from the agency.

A month later, the Attorneys General sent a lawsuit notice to the EPA, the EPA failed to respond leading to Friday’s legal action, according to Biden. 

In addition to Delaware, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington are all on board with this latest suit.

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