EPA Acts to Protect Public Health and Air Quality in Alabama
March 29, 2011
In a victory for clean air and public health in Alabama, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that changes made in 2008 to weaken Alabama’s “visible emissions rule” do not ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management originally proposed the visible emissions, or opacity, rule in 2003 to comply with EPA limits on particulate matter, commonly known as soot. Particulate matter emissions – especially fine particles – pose a serious threat to human health; these airborne, microscopic solids and liquid droplets can lodge deeply in the lungs and bloodstream, and can cause a wide range of lung and heart diseases, including heart attacks and asthma.
For several years, the Birmingham area has failed to meet minimum federal air quality standards for fine particles. Several years ago, frustrated citizens brought a lawsuit against a number of power plants in the state, alleging violations of Alabama’s opacity rule. In response, utility and industrial groups lobbied the state and federal government heavily to relax the rule, succeeding in their third attempt when the Bush administration succumbed to industry pressure in 2008. In 2009, GreenLaw, on behalf of Sierra Club, Alabama Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation, petitioned EPA to reconsider the agency’s 2008 decision to weaken Alabama’s rule governing visible emissions from 19 large industrial facilities. After thorough review and reconsideration, EPA has rejected the rule relaxation.
Details and Documents:
EPA Rule Rejects More Pollution from Smokestacks in Alabama
March 29, 2011, GreenLaw Press Release
Disapproval of the 2003 & 2008 Alabama Visible Emissions Rule Revisions
March 29, 2011, EPA Press Release
EPA overturns Ala. rule on smokestack soot
April 6, 2011 by Gabriel Nelson, Greenwire
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