A coalition of environmental groups plans to file suit against the EPA this summer for failing to enact air pollution control measures that protect the Chesapeake Bay and other major water bodies from the impacts of air pollution.
The suit, to be filed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, will claim that the EPA missed a Nov. 15, 1993 deadline set in the Clean Air Act for determining whether existing Clean Air Act programs were adequately protecting major water bodies.
Based on that determination, the EPA was required to set by Nov. 15, 1995, emission standards or other controls needed to protect major water bodies.
"Unfortunately, EPA has failed to comply with these non-discretionary duties leaving the nation's greatest waters vulnerable to continued degradation from air pollutants," the groups said in a April 9 letter to to EPA Administrator Carol Browner. Citizens are required to give at least 60 days notice before filing suit.
Not only has the EPA missed those deadlines, the letter noted that the agency has also failed to complete a second report about air pollution impacts on the Great Waters, which was to be completed last November.
The first report, "Deposition of Air Pollutants to the Great Waters," concluded that "atmospheric deposition is often an important factor in the degradation of water quality and associated adverse health and ecological effects."
Nitrogen oxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion are thought to contribute between 20 percent and 30 percent of the nitrogen that reaches the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, air pollution is considered to be a major source of toxics in the Great Lakes.
"The issue has become more relevant as we have learned more and more," said Roy Hoagland, an attorney with the CBF's Virginia Office, "and here is a federal statute that specifically cites the Bay among those waters requiring substantial protection as one of the Great Waters of the United States."
"It's a question of political will and a recognition of the seriousness of the problem," he said.