Environmental organizations file notice of intent to sue the EPA to hold states accountable.
Washington, DC - Today, a coalition of environmental organizations filed a notice of intent (NOI) to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it has failed to enforce the Regional Haze Rule as required by the Clean Air Act. The Regional Haze Rule is designed to protect our national parks and wilderness areas from fossil fuel and other sources of pollution that reduce visibility. Enforcing the Clean Air Act will restore the air in our country’s most iconic parks, and return those wild places to natural visibility.
Haze impacts 90 percent of our country’s national parks, with the same pollutants responsible for the widespread air pollution that harms public health, particularly in communities targeted by generations of systemic racism. Air pollution from burning fossil fuels and other sources worsens community health, drives up healthcare costs, and makes it harder for kids to learn and play and adults to work. The same sources of pollution that are harming our communities are also fueling the climate crisis. Strong regional haze plans will help us attain natural visibility in our national parks, improve public health, and reduce pollution that is changing our climate.
Thirty-nine states failed to submit their most recent regional haze plans to the EPA by the deadline of July 31, 2021. The EPA had until January 31, 2022 to issue a formal finding that these states have failed to submit the requisite Regional Haze state implementation plan (SIP), but the agency has not yet done so. The NOI filed by the coalition of environmental organizations asks the EPA to fulfill its mandatory obligation established by Congress.
Thirty-nine organizations joined the notice of intent to sue, including: 350 New Orleans, A Community Voice, Alliance for Affordable Energy, Appalachian Mountain Club, Association of Irritated Residents, Badlands Conservation Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Central California Asthma Collaborative, Coalition Against Death Alley, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Cook Inletkeeper, Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment, Earthworks, Environmental Defense Fund, Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP), Greater New Orleans Climate Reality Project, Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition, Gunnison Valley Climate Crisis Coalition, Healthy Environmental Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah), Healthy Gulf, Idaho Conservation League, Inclusive Louisiana, Justice & Beyond Louisiana, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Montana Environmental Information Center, National Parks Conservation Association, Piedmont Environmental Council, Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP, Inc.), Sierra Club, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, To Nizhoni Ani, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Virginia Conservation Network, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Voyageurs Conservancy, Western Clean Energy Campaign, Western Environmental Law Center, and WildEarth Guardians.
The NOI can be found here (PDF). The environmental organizations are represented by Earthjustice.
Statement from Stephanie Kodish, Senior Director and Counsel for National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Clean Air and Climate Programs: “The EPA must take action to restore clean and clear air at national parks from Great Smoky Mountains to Joshua Tree. Most states have not complied with the basic requirement to get their plan for reducing haze pollution to EPA and it is incumbent on EPA to act. Our national parks, rangers, visitors, wildlife and surrounding communities are suffering under the weight of dirty emissions from hundreds of sources that must be held accountable. Enforcing the Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Program will not only benefit national parks but result in healthier, cleaner air for all.”
Statement from Darryl Malek-Wiley, Organizing Representative for Sierra Club in Louisiana: “I met with Administrator Regan when he visited Louisiana on his Journey to Justice tour. That tour demonstrated how state officials are allowing corporations to disproportionately pollute Black and Hispanic communities, including those along Death Alley here in Louisiana. We need the EPA to enforce the regional haze law to help communities that are overburdened by toxic air pollution because of generations of systemic racism and inadequate leadership from Governor Edwards to hold our state’s largest polluters accountable.”
Statement from Nicole Horseherder, Executive Director of Tó Nizhóní Ání: “The Navajo Nation needs the EPA’s Regional Haze Program to work as intended in order to limit air pollution traveling onto Navajo land. Now is the time for the EPA to do its job because we are doing our part to enable an equitable and just transition to clean energy in our communities.”
Statement from Elizabeth Loos, Executive Director of the Badlands Conservation Alliance: “North Dakota has some of the most egregious haze polluters in the nation, harming air quality in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other treasured places in the Badlands. Sadly, we’ve noticed a pattern with the state regularly downplaying concerns, delaying action and failing to require pollution controls to deliver us clean air. Missing the July 31 SIP deadline is another delay tactic that benefits the dirtiest coal plants in North Dakota. We urge EPA Administrator Regan to enforce the law and hold states accountable.”
Sierra Club media contact: Edward Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
About To Nizhoni Ani: To Nizhoni Ani’s mission is to protect the water of Black Mesa from industry use and waste. We work to bring power back to our Indigenous communities impacted by coal. Our work is rooted in protecting our water—Tó bee iiná. Water is life.
About Badlands Conservation Alliance: The Badlands Conservation Alliance is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the badlands and rolling prairie ecosystem comprising western North Dakota’s public lands, both state and federal. We provide an independent voice for conservation-minded North Dakotans and others who are appreciative of this unique Great Plains landscape.
About The Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our millions of members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.
About Earthjustice: Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.
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Angela GonzalesAssociate Director, Communications