Sierra Club Vows to Fight Repeal of “Once In, Always In” Framework


Brian Willis: 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, former coal lobbyist and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler finalized another rollback allowing industrial polluters to skirt the Clean Air Act to release more dangerous pollution into vulnerable communities and chip away at the effectiveness of one of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws. 

Wheeler’s new giveaway allows polluters to escape the Clean Air Act’s stringent technology-based limits on toxic air pollutants, like mercury, arsenic, and benzene, which have protected millions of people from dirty air for more than two decades. The 1995 guidance requires major polluting sources to permanently comply with “Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) standards. The guidance was specifically designed to secure public protection from especially hazardous air pollutants--which in many cases are carcinogenic, or neurotoxic even in very small quantities--in keeping with the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Wheeler’s new rule, however, creates an “air toxics loophole” that allows thousands of major  polluters to opt out of the standards and pollution monitoring by reclassifying themselves as “area” sources exempt from MACT standards. This will result in a large increase in pollution that will have significant health effects on low-income communities and communities of color, many of which are located near major sources of toxic air pollution.    

In response, Mary Anne Hitt, National Director of Campaigns for the Sierra Club, released the following statement:

Andrew Wheeler is again doing dangerous favors for polluters at the expense of low income communities and communities of color. For the past 25 years, the Clean Air Act’s common-sense, technology-based standards have protected the health of our most vulnerable populations from toxic air pollutants. 

“Despite the success of those standards, many of which have reduced pollution by more than 90 percent, and the renewed national focus on environmental justice, Wheeler is showing there is no level that he will not stoop to in order to placate polluters and carrying out the wishes of his disgraced predecessor, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Sierra Club, however, will continue to fight for the communities Wheeler has chosen to ignore. We will fight this reckless and unlawful rollback, in order to ensure that the American public is safe from dangerous air pollution.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit