Brown Announces Victory Against Weak Bush-Era Air Pollution Standards

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
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Sacramento–Attorney General Edmund G. Brown today announced that a coalition of 18 states and cities have won reversal of controversial Bush-era pollution standards “justified by nothing more than junk science” and which threatened to undermine public health.

"This dangerous air pollution causes thousands of premature deaths each year. Yet the Bush Administration callously ignored the facts and put forward a standard justified by nothing more than junk science,” Attorney General Brown said. “Today, the DC Circuit Court cleared the way for the Obama Administration to right this wrong.”

Fine soot pollution (also known as fine particulate matter pollution or “PM 2.5”) comes from diesel vehicles, power plants and other sources, and is prevalent in urban areas. Because fine soot can lodge deep in the lungs, it can cause numerous harmful health effects, including premature death, chronic respiratory illness, decreased lung function, cardiovascular disease and asthma. Children, senior citizens, and people with existing lung and heart diseases are especially susceptible to harm from fine soot pollution.

That is why EPA’s scientists and scientific advisory committee recommended strict new standards for fine soot in 2005. However, the Bush Administration rejected their advice and chose a weaker, less protective standard. Today’s decision clears the path for the Obama Administration to issue new, stronger standards.

Today’s decision, issued by the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, agreed with the coalition that the Bush EPA had acted illegally in issuing weak air pollution standards for fine soot, acting against the advice of EPA professional staff and EPA’s own scientific advisory committee. The court found that the Bush EPA had also erred by not taking into account the special sensitivity to air pollution of children, elderly people and other vulnerable populations. The Court remanded the standards to the new Obama EPA to issue new, more protective air pollution standards for fine soot that will better protect public health.

The states, cities and other state agencies joining in the challenge that led to today’s victory are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The States of Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts also joined as friends of the court.

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