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US EPA sued over the mobile air toxics rule

25 May 2001

On 24 May 2001, a coalition of environmental organizations and states filed a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency stating that the Agency’s mobile source air toxics rule falls far short of fulfilling legal requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA). Spearheading the litigation are Sierra Club, Earthjustice, US Public Interest Research Group, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Attorneys General of New York and Connecticut. Groups supporting the actions include the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (ALAPCO), the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA), and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM).

The CAA required EPA to reduce by 1995 the threat of toxic air pollutants from mobile sources, such as cars, trucks, buses, boats, snowmobiles, construction equipment, aircraft and lawn equipment, and motor vehicle fuels. The final rule, signed in December 2000 and released by EPA in March 2001, adopted certain new gasoline toxic emission performance standards. No additional vehicle or diesel fuel control measures were set, based on the EPA’s conclusion that existing regulations, such as the light-duty Tier 2 standards and the 2007 heavy-duty diesel emission standards, provide a sufficient degree of air toxic emission control. The coalition of suing organizations considers this a failure on behalf of the EPA to implement the CAA provisions.

The dispute concentrates on the control of such substances as benzene (classified as a known human carcinogen), and formaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, acetaldehyde and diesel particulate (all probable human carcinogens).