EPA Fails to Get the Lead Out

Two Northern California environmental groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency last week to force regions in six states and Puerto Rico to produce plans to cut lead contamination in the air.

The Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco and the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, asked the federal court to declare the EPA in violation of the Clean Air Act on November 20.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA designates a region as having “attained” clean air standards, or as polluted, or “non-attainment” areas. Non-attainment areas must submit a plan within three years to meet the standards.

The EPA then decides, within six months of submission, if the plans are adequate, according to the complaint.

If the EPA fails to act within a year, the plan will be deemed complete, the lawsuit states.

The groups contend two areas in Iowa and Puerto Rico failed to file mandatory plans for cutting lead levels in the air to the 2008 air quality standards set by EPA.

In addition, the EPA is required to approve or disapprove previously submitted plans by regions around the country.  The complaint accuses the EPA of failure to take those steps by the mandated deadlines in five cities: Tampa, Cleveland and Delta, Ohio; Eagan, Minnesota; and Frisco, Texas.

And finally, although North Carolina has been found to meet the EPA’s airborne lead levels it has no monitoring plan to remain in compliance, the lawsuit alleges.

The two environmental groups have asked the court in San Francisco to issue an injunction ordering the EPA to act.

“We have an agency not seeking full enforcement of the act,” said Jonathan Evans, attorney for the Center for Biodiversity.

Case: Center for Biological Diversity v. McCarthy, U.S. District Court for Northern California, No. 14-cv-5138.



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