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Ruling Affirms EPA's Tighter Air Limits
Industry is unlikely to challenge an appeals court decision last week that upheld an EPA rule tightening limits on ozone and fine particulate pollution, environmental activists and others say.
Vickie Patton, senior attorney with Environmental Defense, tells C&EN the decision by the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia is "the end of the line" for legal challenges to the 1997 Clean Air Act standards. A three-judge panel unanimously ruled that EPA was neither arbitrary nor capricious in setting tougher rules for ozone and fine particulates.
"The court of appeals rejected every industry challenge," notes John L. Kirkwood, American Lung Association president and CEO. Kirkwood says industries should now focus on reducing air pollution "instead of specious lawsuits."
Environmental activists, northeastern states, and Bush Administration officials, who defended the Clinton-era rules before the appeals court, hailed the decision. Industry attorneys who lodged the challenge were studying the decision to determine what their next moves might be. The American Chemistry Council was involved in the challenge but did not respond to requests for an interview.
In the wake of the ruling, EPA will determine which areas of the U.S. fail to meet the tougher standards. States will then have to come up with strategies to control air pollution emissions so they can meet the tighter limits.
The case had gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, which said EPA did not have to consider the cost of compliance in setting the limits. It remanded the case to the lower court for a decision on the reasonableness of the standards.
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