Greenpeace, other environmental groups file lawsuit against U.S. EPA to compel review, update of Clean Air Act rules to reduce pollution from kraft pulp mills, say standards are outdated for these mills
December 6, 2011
– The Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and Port Townsend Airwatchers filed suit on Monday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to compel a long-overdue review and update of Clean Air Act rules to reduce pollution from kraft pulp mills. Kraft pulp mills use chemicals to dissolve wood chips into fibers used to make paper products.
The EPA has not reviewed the pollution-emission standards for kraft pulp mills, called New Source Performance Standards, for more than 25 years. The Clean Air Act requires such reviews every eight years to keep emission standards current and ensure that these industries use up-to-date pollution-control technology.
“Emission control standards for kraft pulp mills have not been updated for a quarter of a century, even though existing technology can greatly reduce the harmful pollution they spew into the air. Our citizens’ health has suffered the consequences,” said Gretchen Brewer of Port Townsend Airwatchers.
Kraft pulp mills emit a substantial volume of noxious air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur compounds, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. The standards are so outdated for these mills that only two of the pollutants (particulate matter and sulfur compounds) are currently subject to these national performance standards.
The mills are also significant emitters of dangerous greenhouse gases, similarly unregulated by performance standards. Because greenhouse gases are pollutants that endanger human health and welfare, EPA must set performance standards that limit them.
“The EPA’s duty to review and update pollution standards for kraft pulp mills is crystal clear,” said Larry Edwards of Greenpeace. “There’s no excuse for ignoring the law and putting the health of our citizens and our planet at risk.”
“Kraft pulp mills put dangerous pollution into the air, and people living near them have no choice but to breathe it. This lawsuit is about getting the EPA to greatly reduce that pollution through a successful, time-tested Clean Air Act process. It’s a shame the EPA must be sued to do such a critically important and lifesaving job,” said Vera Pardee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Greenpeace and Port Townsend Airwatchers are represented by Helen Kang and law students at the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.