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EPA Blows off Smog Rules, Enviros Say

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - WildEarth Guardians says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to do its nondiscretionary duty to protect the public from smog. The EPA is more than a year late in promulgating ozone rules, and failed to act though the individual states are certain to miss their deadlines as well, according to the federal complaint.

The Clean Air Act required the EPA "to establish rules to ensure that states 'prevent significant deterioration' of air quality with regard to ground-level ozone," and it had to do so within 2 years after issuance of the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), the Guardians say. But "EPA has not promulgated the required PSD [prevent significant deterioration] rules."

The second nondiscretionary duty the EPA has neglected is "to ensure that all states have adequate plants to implement and enforce the 2008 Ozone NAAQS." The 50 states were required to adopt and submit such plans to EPA within 3 years of the promulgation of the 2008 Ozone NAAQS.

But "only two states, Kentucky and Tennessee, have submitted the required plans to EPA for approval." Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to make a finding within 6 months when states miss this deadline, which triggers a duty for the EPA to prepare a federal plan for the state or approve a state plan within 2 years. But "EPA has yet to make any findings that states have failed to submit the required plans to attain and maintain the 2008 Ozone NAAQS even though only two states have done so."

The Guardians say: "EPA's failure to perform its nondiscretionary duties is having a negative effect on air quality and harming human health and the plants and animals Guardians and its members strive to protect."

They ask the court to order the EPA and its Administrator Lisa Jackson to do their jobs and comply with the loose deadlines under which they are supposed to work.

Ozone is a prime component of visible smog.

WildEarth Guardians, based in Santa Fe, N.M., is represented by James Tutchton of Centennial, Colo.

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