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Two-Dozen Republican Attorneys General File Lawsuit Challenging New EPA Soot Pollution Rules

— March 7, 2024

A coalition of two-dozen conservative attorneys general have filed a lawsuit challenging revised federal regulations on soot pollution, claiming that increased oversight will raise costs for businesses and deter critical investments in manufacturing infrastructure.

According to The Associated Press, twenty-four states—led by the attorneys general of Kentucky and West Virginia—filed a joint complaint against the federal Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and business-interest groups initiating separate but similar claims.

“The E.P.A.’s new rule has more to do with advancing President Biden’s radical green agenda than protecting Kentuckians’ health or the environment,” Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman said in a statement.

If enforced, Coleman said that the E.P.A.’s soot pollution rules “will drive jobs and investment out of Kentucky and overseas, leaving employers and hardworking families to pay the price.”

Image via Dor/Wikimedia Commons. (CCA-BY-3.0)

Coleman and his conservative allies noted that the United States has unusually strict air quality standards, the stringency of which exceed regulations in the European Union.

Stricter standards “wouldn’t improve public health, but it would put as many as 30% of all U.S. counties out of compliance under federal law, leading to aggressive new permitting requirements that could effectively block new economic activity,” Coleman said.

The E.P.A., for its part, has defended its decision, with its administrator—Michael Regan—saying that better standards will save more than $46 billion in net health costs by 2032, while preventing up to 800,000 asthma attacks and 4,500 premature deaths.

In January of 2021, shortly after Trump left the Oval Office, the agency said that a “strong body of scientific evidence” indicates that exposure to soot particulate could have deleterious and far-reaching public health consequences.

“The strong body of scientific evidence shows that long- and short-term exposures to fine particles (PM2.5) can harm people’s health, leading to heart attacks, asthma attacks, and premature death. Large segments of the U.S. population, including children, people with heart or lung conditions, and people of color, are at risk of health effects from PM2.5,” the agency said in its January 2021 press release. “While some PM is emitted directly from sources such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires, most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles.”

Responding to the recent wave of litigation, Regan suggested that regulating air pollution is not at odds with hopes of continued economic growth.

The soot rule “really does represent what the Biden-Harris administration is all about, which is understanding that healthy people equal a healthy economy,” Regan said. “We do not have to sacrifice people to have a prosperous and booming economy.”


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