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Environmental Groups File Second Lawsuit Against EPA

Since 1990, the Clean Air Act has reduced emissions of six common pollutants by 41%, but according to a handful of environmental groups, Pennsylvania is not doing its job when it comes to haze.

Earthjustice, on behalf of the Clean Air Council, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Sierra Club, has filed a second lawsuit against the EPA for its approval of a haze plan that they say does not meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

“(The state of Pennsylvania) came up with essentially a half-baked plan. The totality of the plan will not in fact address the problem of haze. They submitted that to the EPA and truly, surprisingly, the EPA approved it, but the EPA had no authority to approve a plan that was not more detailed,” said Joel Minott, Attorney and Executive Director of the Clean Air Council.

In 2012 Pennsylvania submitted the haze plan to reduce pollutants released by power plants and factories that limit visibility. The Clean Air Act requires all states to make these haze plans to protect Class 1 nature areas, such as Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia, the closest of these areas to Pittsburgh.

In July 2012, Pennsylvania’s plan was approved by the EPA. Two months later, the environmental groups filed a lawsuit, and the following year the EPA withdrew the plan and said it needed more time to come up with a solution.

This April the EPA acknowledged some of the shortcomings and then approved the same plan again.

“They said that the technology that is available is simply too is too expensive for them to require these plants to put on, but their assessment of what was too expensive was way off. The technology exists. It’s cost effective, and the law requires that if these plants pollute, that they need to reduce their pollution,” said Minott.

On Monday the groups filed the same lawsuit in hopes that Pennsylvania will make changes to the haze plan.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.