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Friends of Hudson, Earthjustice, Other Groups Challenge New EPA Rule That Gives Refineries, Chemical Plants Free Pass for Toxic Air Pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2006

Friends of Hudson, Earthjustice, Other Groups Challenge New EPA Rule That Gives Refineries, Chemical Plants Free Pass for Toxic Air Pollution

Environmental, public health coalition challenges illegal rule in federal court

Washington, D.C. – Environmentalists and community organizations late yesterday filed litigation in federal court challenging an illegal rule adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency that allows refineries, chemical plants, and other industrial facilities to evade pollution control requirements whenever equipment malfunctions, and whenever they start up or shutdown operations. At these times toxic emissions can increase ten times allowable levels, and many companies routinely operate in “malfunction” mode to avoid compliance with pollution limits.

“It’s as if EPA is sending the message that protecting public health is secondary to protecting polluters’ right to pollute,” said Susan Falzon, executive director of Friends of Hudson, a New York-based community environmental organization. “The general public believes that the EPA protects both the environment and public health. Polluting industries benefit unfairly from this public trust when the EPA fails to hold them accountable.”

Earthjustice is representing Friends of Hudson, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Coalition for a Safe Environment, Sierra Club, and Environmental Integrity Project in the litigation, which was filed in the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

To read a report by Environmental Integrity Project concluding that loopholes in the law are threatening public health, read Gaming the System.