December 10, 2013

Sen. Whitehouse: SCOTUS Should Uphold Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the statement below regarding the oral argument at the Supreme Court today on whether to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR):
“For too long, virtually uncontrolled coal-fired power plants have used tall smoke stacks to export dirty air to downwind states like Rhode Island – polluting our skies and endangering our health.  In 2011, EPA established the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would finally protect people from out-of-state pollution.  Sadly, the big polluters have fought this rule all the way to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case today.  The Court has an important choice: allow the EPA to do its job and protect the American people from dirty air, or allow the big polluters to have their way and continue dumping their pollution on downwind states.  I hope the Court will rule in favor of the people.”
Each year, according to EPA, the air quality improvements from CSAPR are estimated to prevent between 13,000 and 34,000 premature deaths; provide $120 to $280 billion in health and environmental benefits; and to avoid 1.8 million missed work or school days.
Senator Whitehouse has had long-standing concerns about tall smoke stacks and how they diminish air quality in downwind states.  During his time as Rhode Island’s Attorney General, Whitehouse joined EPA’s lawsuit against American Electric Power for its illegal modification of 16 plants.  He has also spoken on this issue many times in the Senate, and in 2010 requested that the Government Accountability Office complete a report about the contribution of tall smoke stacks to east coast air pollution.  The report determined that “tall stacks [those taller than 500 feet] can increase the distance these pollutants travel in the atmosphere and harm air quality and the environment in downwind communities.”

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