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EPA Being Taken to Court Over State Rights to Monitor Pollution

February 12, 2007

If a state like New York wants new technology to monitor air pollution, they can right? Not so, according to a new EPA rule, and that's why the rule is being challenged today n federal court. The problem, according to Environmental Integrity Project attorney Ben Wakefield, is the EPA is telling states they have to stick with existing pollution monitoring requirements even if newer technology works better for detecting pollution.

"If a state is aware of that technology and believes it to be necessary in their state, in their situation, why does the EPA want to make it easier for polluters to hide their emissions?"

The suit is to be filed today in Washington. Environmentalists estimate there are more than 500 industrial facilities across New York that fall under the controversial new Clean Air Act Rule. Kery Powell with Earth Justice believes that under the new rule, the EPA is forcing states to stick with some very old pollution testing methods she says clearly are inadequate.

"I've seen regulations that only require a power plant operator to go out once per year and look at their smokestack to see whether there is any dark smoke coming out of it. EPA tells the states, you are stuck with whatever the regulations say and it doesn't matter whether you think that monitoring is sufficient."

Wakefield thinks states like New York are being forced by the EPA to ignore pollution.

"By not allowing state permitting authorities to require adequate monitoring of pollution in their Clean Air Permits, the EPA is not only looking the other way, it's forcing responsible state regulators to look the other way, too."

The suit will be filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The rule is 71 GR 75422.

Michael Clifford/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - NY