Lawsuit Building to Push EPA to Enforce Clean Air Act Protections For Martin Lake Coal-Fired Power Plant


Renner Barsella,

DALLAS, TX — Today, Sierra Club filed a formal notice of intent to sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to impose a Federal Implementation Plan to eliminate harmful levels of sulfur dioxide pollution from Luminant’s Martin Lake coal-fired power plant. 

Misti O’Quinn, Sierra Club’s Organizing Representative for the Beyond Coal Campaign in Texas said, “Martin Lake is the worst sulfur dioxide and mercury polluter in the entire country. Failure to impose a plan to keep our air clean puts lives at risk from Rusk County to Dallas County. EPA needs to do its job and protect the health and environment of East Texas.” 

In 2016, EPA determined that levels of sulfur dioxide surrounding Luminant’s Martin Lake power plant fail to meet national health-based standards, meaning the air is unhealthy to breathe. Since then, Texas’s own monitoring data confirms that air quality in the area routinely violates air quality protections. Sulfur dioxide is a dangerous chemical that can impair lung function, worsen asthma attacks, and put sensitive groups, like those with heart disease at extreme risk.

Martin Lake is the only source of dangerous sulfur dioxide in the area. Under the Clean Air Act, if a polluter fails to meet the air safety standards independently, the US EPA is obligated to enforce the law by imposing a federal clean-up plan that requires the polluter to come into compliance with the Clean Air Act’s public health safeguards. Despite routine violations of air quality standards, Martin Lake still does not have common sense pollution controls, like modern scrubbers used across the industry, to reduce pollution enough to safer levels in compliance with national air quality standards. 

Jordan Iglesias, Sierra Club’s Deputy Director for Beyond Coal said, “Under the Clean Air Act, Texas had an obligation to ensure that the area surrounding Martin lake came into compliance with EPA’s health-based sulfur dioxide limits no later than 2021. The state refused to do anything to address Martin Lake’s repeated violations of air quality safeguards, and has instead opted to fight on behalf of Luminant against EPA’s determination that Martin Lake needs to clean up. Given Texas’s refusal to protect the public, the Clean Air Act is clear: EPA must now do Texas’s job for it, and step in with a federal plan that eliminates harmful sulfur dioxide pollution.” 

Advocates are required to wait 60 days after filing a notice of intent to sue before proceeding with legal action. Sierra Club looks forward to continuing legal action as necessary to ensure the law is enforced.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of 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