Tuesday, January 19, 2021

CBF Sues EPA For Failing To Protect Chesapeake Bay Watershed Residents And Bay From Particulate Pollution

On January 19,
Chesapeake Bay Foundation and environmental and public health partners sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to strengthen air quality limits for small, airborne particles (known as particulate matter). 

Major sources of particulate matter pollution include industrial facilities, power plants, vehicle tailpipe emissions, and large poultry operations.  

Joining CBF in filing suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are American Lung Association, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists. 

EPA decided last month not to update particulate matter standards set back in 2012, even though the most up-to-date science shows that the current standard does not sufficiently protect public health. The Clean Air Act requires the standards to “accurately reflect the latest scientific knowledge.” 

CBF said stronger particulate matter controls would also benefit the Bay cleanup by reducing emissions of ammonia and nitrogen oxides, which cause nitrogen deposition into the Bay and its waterways. 

Nitrogen is one of the three pollutants that must be reduced to achieve the goals of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by the 2025 deadline. 

EPA’s decision to leave weak particulate matter limits in place also ignored a growing body of evidence that communities of color and low-income communities are exposed to more particulate matter pollution and are disproportionately vulnerable to the harm it can cause than wealthier White communities.  

Finally, EPA’s flawed review process for reviewing the current standard repeatedly marginalized scientific expertise and abandoned long-standing practice, said CBF.  

For example, EPA arbitrarily disbanded an independent expert panel that previously helped the agency conduct an unbiased, rigorous scientific assessment of the particulate matter safeguards. 

In a related action on January 13, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, all located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, joined 12 other states and New York City in filing a similar suit challenging EPA’s decision not to tighten current particulate matter limits. 

CBF Staff Litigation Attorney Ariel Solaski made the following statement about the case: 

“The Trump EPA’s decision to retain dangerously weak fine particulate matter standards is contrary to the Clean Air Act and the scientific record. It is also the result of a deeply flawed review process that repeatedly marginalized scientific expertise. People living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the effort to restore the health of the Bay will pay a high price for EPA’s failure. 

“Strong limits are essential to protecting the health of the more than 18 million people who live and work in the Bay’s 64,000 square-mile watershed. Watershed communities facing environmental injustices, whose members are especially susceptible to particulate matter pollution, will unjustly bear the heaviest burden. 

“CBF will fight to reverse EPA’s arbitrary and illegal refusal to strengthen particulate matter standards. The watershed’s most vulnerable residents and the health of the Chesapeake Bay deserve nothing less.” 

For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

Also visit the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to learn how you can help clean water grow on trees.

CBF has over 275,000 members in Bay Watershed.

[PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

[For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.

[Click Here for a summary of the steps the Plan recommends.

[How Clean Is Your Stream?

[DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.]

Related Articles - Water:

-- DEP, Partners Provide Progress Report On First Phase Of Chesapeake Bay Implementation Plan To EPA; New DEP Guide To Permitting For Watershed Projects

-- Bay Journal: Can Chesapeake Bay Region Dredge Its Way Out Of Conowingo Dam Problem? 

-- CNH Industrial-New Holland Ag Partners With Alliance For The Chesapeake Bay On Riparian Buffer Project In Lancaster County

-- Feb. 3 Webinar: Managing Polluted Runoff In Southeastern PA

--PA Organization For Watershed & Rivers Hosts 3-Part Engagement In Local Government Decision Making For Community Watershed Groups Webinars 

-- Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper Songs Of The Susquehanna River Project Entries Due Jan. 31 

-- Registration Open!  Delaware Estuary Science & Environment Summit; DRBC Climate Change Forum March 1-3

[Posted: January 19, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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