In response to late yesterday's decision by the Honorable Judge Robert L. Wilkins in United States District Court for the District of Columbia that directed the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose updated soot air pollution standards by June 7, 2012, Attorney General Kilmartin cited the decision as a clear victory for clean air and the public's health and safety.
"I applaud the District Court's decision requiring the EPA to promptly propose and finalize new soot pollution standards. The significant health risks posed by soot emissions cannot be disputed, and Rhode Island ranks in the top for health issues caused by the pollutant," Kilmartin said.
Rhode Island was part of an 11-state coalition that argued the case decided by the federal District Court. The decision directs the EPA to propose updated soot air pollution standards. The Court ruling granted a preliminary injunction directing the EPA to propose updated soot air pollution standards.
Under the current standards, the state Department of Environmental Management estimates that roughly 50 people die prematurely every year in the Rhode Island from heart disease related to soot pollution. Moreover, Providence County ranks among the worst six percent of all counties in the United States for health impacts from diesel soot pollution.
"The current federal standards for soot emissions are woefully inadequate, causing premature deaths and serious chronic respiratory harm to people in Rhode Island as well as across our country," added Kilmartin.
The decision follows a lawsuit that Attorney General Kilmartin, and 10 other attorneys general, filed in February 2012 to compel the EPA to promptly revise national air quality standards for fine particulate matter ("PM2.5"), commonly referred to as "soot," and other forms of particulate matter. The coalition took legal action after the EPA failed to meet an October 2011 deadline for revising the existing lax standards, as required by the federal Clean Air Act.