Spitzer Urges Epa To Hand Over Information On Clean Air Cases

New York Attorney General Spitzer today issued the following statement regarding the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to forego new Clean Air Act enforcement actions:

"In 1999, my office formed a partnership with the federal government to reduce air pollution from power plants. We filed a series of lawsuits, the foundation of which was the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act.

That effort is now at risk because of the EPA’s decision, revealed yesterday, to abandon a series of important Clean Air Act cases.

This decision could result in the agency dropping investigations of Clean Air Act violations at more than 50 industrial facilities nationwide and not even pursuing companies that have already been found in violation of the Clean Air Act.

This action means that the states must again fill a void left by the failure of the Bush administration to enforce the law.

We are prepared to do so in New York.

In this regard, I am calling on the EPA to provide its enforcement files to state officials for review and possible legal action.

The EPA should provide all of these files to the attorney general not only of the state in which the polluters are located, but also to the attorneys general of the states downwind that are harmed by this pollution.

Specifically, EPA has referred 13 cases to the U.S. Department of Justice for violations of the NSR program. None of these cases has been acted upon by Bush Administration.

The states should be given information to act on these cases, if the federal government will not.

EPA has also filed "Notices of Violation" against 47 facilities (6 power plants, 15 refineries, and 26 other industrial facilities.

The states should be given the option of following through on these potential cases, if the federal government will not.

EPA has conducted investigations into another 69 power plants and 7 other industrial facilities for suspected violations of the Clean Air Act.

If provided appropriate information from the EPA, the states may decide to complete these investigations and take appropriate action.

A federal-state partnership is the best way to enforce air quality laws. But if the federal government refuses to act to protect citizens, the states must be provided with appropriate information so that they can step forward to do so.

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