EPA Moves to Close Unlawful Loopholes Allowing Unchecked Air Pollution Emissions in Iowa
Friday, February 17, 2023, WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, EPA proposed to eliminate loopholes in state plans during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) in Iowa, North Carolina, and Texas that allow harmful emissions of nearly limitless amounts of air pollution.
In 2015, President Obama's EPA took steps to remove unlawful SSM loopholes in 36 states, but the Trump Administration reversed this decision in Iowa, North Carolina, and Texas. This week’s announcement proposes to reinstate President Obama’s decision to remove unlawful SSM loopholes in Iowa, North Carolina, and Texas, and proposes additional actions to eliminate SSM loopholes in several additional states including Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, and Wisconsin.
During SSM events, industrial and power plant polluters can release more harmful air pollution during a single pollution spike than they’re legally allowed in an entire year, without consequences or reporting requirements. As long as these loopholes exist, fenceline and downwind communities can be exposed to nearly limitless amounts of soot, smog, and toxic chemicals.
EPA is accepting public comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
In response, Sierra Club Senior Attorney Andrea Issod released the following statement:
“Communities have been fighting against these unlawful SSM loopholes for decades. They’re irresponsible and dangerous giveaways to polluters that threaten the health of vulnerable communities near fossil fuel facilities–which are frequently low income communities and communities of color.
“Today’s actions are a positive step toward addressing these egregious handouts to Big Polluters, but we still have a long way to go before we can achieve clean air for all. We encourage President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan to finish the job and close all SSM loopholes everywhere they are found in EPA rules once and for all.”
Sierra Club Healthy Communities Campaign Representative Bryan Parras released the following statement:
"These loopholes have prematurely shortened the lives of many of our grandfathers and grandmothers and cost the local economy $241 million dollars a year. This is an egregious and unacceptable reality for communities that are disproportionately overburdened by these illegal air emissions.
“Now, these SSM events are happening more frequently and more severely due to extreme weather as witnessed during the Winter Storm Uri, and Texans deserve to be protected from loopholes that perpetuate a culture of impunity.”