Sierra Club applauds EPA startup, shutdown proposal

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Friday, September 5, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a fix to close a major Clean Air Act loophole that has allowed polluting facilities in dozens of states to dump huge amounts of dangerous pollution onto nearby communities.

Due to this loophole, many states allow facilities to release unlimited amounts of pollution during a startup, shutdown, or malfunction, despite the fact that dangerous emissions during these episodes can exceed allowable levels by ten times or more. For decades, communities near these facilities, who tend to be lower income communities and communities of color, have shouldered the burden of hazardous emissions that dirty their air and make their families sick. This proposal will help ensure that big polluters are held accountable for their pollution when their facilities are coming online, shutting down or experiencing a malfunction.

In response, Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign Director, issued the following statement.

“Until now, communities living adjacent to power plants and other polluters have had limited recourse when they were exposed to dangerous emissions during the start up, shutdown, or malfunction of a facility. Many states allow polluters to release unlimited amounts of pollution during these episodes, during which dangerous emissions can exceed safe levels by ten times or more. EPA’s proposed protections are a major step forward in closing an air pollution loophole that has been a menace to families living next to polluting facilities. Strong clean air safeguards mean strong, healthy communities and today’s proposal will help protect some of America’s most vulnerable communities.  

“Finalizing strong protections for these dangerous pollution events will have important, long overdue benefits to low income communities that frequently suffer from some of the worst effects of air pollution. We applaud the EPA for their proposal and encourage them to work swiftly to finalize these strong protections that protect kids and families from big polluters.”

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