Press Releases

Federal Court Upholds Key Acid Rain Regulation

NY Needs This Rule to Defend Itself from Midwest Coal-Fired Smokestacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Adirondack Council today hailed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that upheld a key federal clean air regulation that helps to protect the Adirondack Park from acid rain.

The Cross State Air Pollution Rule Update prohibits one state’s coal-fired power plants from emitting enough air pollution to cause a health hazard in another state. It was enacted by the Obama administration and today was upheld unanimously by the three-judge panel. The court did, however, order an improvement to the rule that would require polluters to curb their emissions affecting downwind neighbors prior to the deadlines by which downwind states must meet federal air quality standards. The rule lacked a fast deadline for upwind emissions reductions.

“We are very pleased that the court upheld the rule and will continue to require 22 states upwind of the Adirondack Park to curb their emissions,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, a national leader in the fight against acid rain. “The Cross-State Rule is a key element in the effort to protect the Adirondacks from acid rain. It was designed to prevent smog and soot from harming public health throughout the Northeast. Those same coal-fired power plant smokestacks cause acid rain too.”

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was created under the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, which reduces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from coal-fired power plants across the Midwest, South and Northeast. That pollution, and the resulting soot and smog, drift across state borders and harm public health in 22 downwind states. The original Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014.

In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the rule to help states meet our nation’s 2008 health-based smog standards. The EPA estimates the updated rule will prevent more than 67,000 asthma attacks each year, and will provide more than $12 in health benefits for every dollar invested. Coal companies, coal-based power companies, and five states sued the EPA.

Even the Trump administration EPA supported the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in this case. This is ironic, given that it has refused to enforce it in similar circumstances. Trump’s EPA has denied requests from Maryland and Delaware for help with dangerous border-crossing pollution. Both states have sued the EPA over those decisions. The Adirondack Council is a party to those lawsuits. Trump’s EPA has also threatened to deny a request for help from New York. The EPA is under a court order to render a final decision on New York’s petition today.

“Protecting clean air prevents a return of acid rain in the Adirondacks. We cannot afford to reverse decades of progress restoring clean water, native fisheries, forests and wildlife, critical for the ecological integrity, wild character and economy of the Adirondack Park,” said Janeway as the Adirondack Council applauded the court’s decision.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities. 

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action to ensure the legacy of the Adirondack Park is safeguarded for future generations. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

For more information:John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 13, 2019

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