Overhaul of Outdated Pollution Rules Set to Begin in March

WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge gave regulators less than six months Friday to begin the process of overhauling pollution standards that have been left in place for over a decade.

The Sierra Club initiated the underlying challenge ago nearly a year ago in Washington, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency had shirked its duty when it came to oversight of incineration units that are used to dispose of commercial, industrial solid waste.

Such incinerators emit hundreds of tons of cancer-causing particulate pollutants every year, but the EPA has not updated its standards since putting them in place in 2005.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly agreed Friday that the EPA’s duty to review and revise those standards every five years is nondiscretionary, meaning that the Sierra Club is entitled to summary judgment with regard to its claim.

While the EPA requested a delay until March 2020 to begin the updating process, Kelly settled on a deadline of March 2019 after noting that the EPA has been “engaging in a number of other discretionary activities” that account for resources it could redirect to reviewing and revising the 2005 standards.

The Sierra Club had sought for the review work to begin immediately, but Judge Kelly found it appropriate to give the agency “time to properly plan the execution of this project.”

Once work on the review starts in March, the EPA must publish a notice of a proposed rulemaking by Aug. 31, 2020, and then promulgate a final rule by May 31, 2021, the ruling states.

EPA spokesman Robert Daguillard said in an email that the agency is reviewing the decision.

Representatives for the Sierra Club did not respond to a request for comment.

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