Pa. withdraws from air-quality lawsuits

    Governor Corbett has withdrawn Pennsylvania from five court cases that pit business against the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    Pennsylvania joined the lawsuits during the Rendell administration to add legal muscle and help uphold federal proposals to further regulate air quality.

    Jan Jarrett, president of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, said she’s not too concerned that the state stepped away from the legal battle. She is worried that state Department of Environmental Protection has tapped out of the fight against the greenhouse gases that harm health and create smog.

    “What people really want to know is, does D.E.P. support strengthening the standards for cutting the pollution that causes that,” Jarrett said.

    One rule under attack by businness limits smokestake emissions that travel across state lines. Another proposal would regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.

    Jarrett says those rules are tools.

    “You can’t get clean air by magic, you gotta get clean air by regulating the pollution that’s dirtying the air,” she said.

    The Department of Environmental Protection said the administration will work on improving air quality but considers litigation a last-resort option.

    Pennsylvania Sierra Club chairman Dennis Winters is disappointed.

    “We have to assume that the right to breathe clean air is as important to the Corbett administration as it is to us, but withdrawing from these lawsuits certainly takes away part of the approach that would have seen it through to improving that air quality,” he said.

    Environmentalists are also disappointed that the Obama administration will delay a review of the nation’s ozone standard. Activists had hoped a closer look would lead to more stringent regulations.

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