The EPA loophole that freed power plants from reporting their toxic emissions has been closed (for now).
Last week, a U.S. federal appeals court struck down an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that exempted large factories and major power plants from accurately measuring their toxic emissions. Responding to a challenge filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Project, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the EPA violated Clean Air Act standards by allowing those companies responsible for the lion’s share of the nation’s air pollution to avoid monitoring, recording and recordkeeping of airborne emissions despite the letter of the law.
The as-of-now overturned EPA rule specifically prohibited permitting authorities—primarily state agencies—from including stronger air pollution monitoring requirements in permits for some 18,000 major stationary pollution sources, even where needed to guarantee compliance with emission limits.
"This is a huge victory for everyone who breathes," Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell told reporters. "We can’t have strong enforcement of our clean air laws unless we know what polluters are putting into the air."
"The Bush EPA went out of its way to overturn a system that required states to adequately monitor air pollution at power plants and factories," said John Walke, Clean Air Director for the NRDC. "Instead, the EPA actually outlawed states from requiring monitoring good enough to protect the health of their citizens. The EPA’s consistent polluter-biased practices have amounted to industry foxes having a party in the henhouse."