Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | February 25, 2009

Environmental lawyer Sanders says D.C. Court of Appeals orders EPA back to the drawing board for PM standards under Clean Air Act.

A three member panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered U.S. EPA to reconsider its regulatory standards for particulate matter or PM.  PM is regulated under the Clean Air Act because it is potentially hazardous to humans, especially fine diameter particulates that are linked to premature death from lung cancer and heart disease and to other health problems including asthma.  Two of three member appellate panel were republican appointees, so this decision is noteworthy.  The opinion is at: http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/common/opinions/200902/06-1410-1166572.pdf

 

The judicial panel court found that EPA “did not adequately explain” why EPA’s PM standards were adequate to protect human health and the environment.  Researchers have drawn direct and immediate links between ambient levels of fine particulates and hospital admissions and deaths. By some estimates, tens of thousands of Americans die each year from exposure to airborne particulates.

 

In response to the ruling, EPA said only that the standards for particulate matter are “extremely important” and that the Obama administration would review the matter “to ensure that the science and the law will be properly followed.”  That comment is viewed by many as a direct slap at the Bush Administration’s handling of environmental issues and at EPA’s former Administrator Stephen Johnson, who is often faulted for making agency determinations in direct conflict with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence, law and facts.

 

It was the second time in two days that federal appellate courts were in the news for overturning EPA decisions made by the Bush administration. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a challenge to the lower court’s ruling against Bush-era standards on emissions of mercury and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

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