The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being challenged by legal action for failing to update their acid rain quality standards for the safety of our country’s sensitive ecosystems and natural resources. The standards were created in 1971 and have never been updated. Even though the EPA has identified that this is a problem and came up with an action plan they have yet to put the plan into place to fix the problem.
The Clean Air Council, Center for Biological Diversity and National Parks Conservation Association filed the legal action with the help of the non-profit law firm Earthjustice. Mark Wenzler, vice president for clean air and climate programs at the National Parks Conservation Association. “The EPA’s failure to protect national parks from acid rain risks leaving wildlife and ecosystems permanently impaired.”
The EPA was sued in 2005 for failing to even review the standards. This is what originally led to their studies in realizing the secondary standards were outdated. However, even with this knowledge provided by the EPA’s own scientists nothing was done. This recent legal action appears to be an attempt to get the EPA moving on revising the acid rain standards.
“EPA’s scientists identified the problem and provided a formula for action, but EPA dropped the ball,” said Charles McPhedran, attorney with Earthjustice, which is representing the three groups. “EPA’s inaction hurts our streams, and will not stand.”
From the Environment News Service:
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set so-called “secondary” air quality standards limiting ambient concentrations of air pollutants that affect “public welfare,” which includes ecosystems and natural resources.
The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups sued the agency in 2005 over its failure to review the secondary standard for sulfur and nitrogen compounds that react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acid rain. The standard was first established in 1971 and has not been updated.
The groups argue that the EPA “chose to leave these inadequate standards in place,” and that the agency has rejected efforts by EPA scientific experts to write a new, more protective standard.
“Instead of following the law and doing what is necessary to protect our natural resources, EPA has chosen to sit on the sidelines. Meanwhile, acid rain continues to poison our waters and threaten our forests,” said Joe Minott of the Clean Air Council, based in Philadelphia.
Without acid rain standards being revised to meet the current environmental issues it will be difficult to keep the national forests from being further destroyed by acid rain. Hopefully this legal action motivates the EPA to revise the standards sooner than later.