Update: As a result of the settlement of our litigation, EPA has adopted new regulations that provide some new controls of kraft pulp mill air emissions. Notice of the new regulations was published in the Federal Register on March 21, 2014. (Original article follows)
A fix is at hand for reducing air pollution from pulp mills all across the nation — if you will pitch-in with a short comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Although every eight years EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to review and improve its regulations controlling air emissions from these mills, it has missed all three of the required reviews since 1986! The regulations now in force date to 1978, and being based on the 34-year old technology they need a thorough overhaul.
We now have a strong foothold for setting this right. Last month EPA tentatively agreed to a good settlement of a lawsuit Greenpeace and two co-plaintiffs filed against EPA in December over the agency’s neglect.
One hurdle remains, though, and your comments to the EPA are needed to get past it.
Where We’re At
EPA’s violation of the Clean Air Act is obvious, and it agreed last month – but pending its consideration of public comments – to a jointly proposed consent decree. The court is holding the decree in abeyance until then. If EPA gives its final affirmation of the decree, the terms are for completion of its review of the regulatory situation by next May 15, and the adoption of all needed regulatory updates by March 14, 2014. A good schedule.
The pollutants of interest. Air pollutants the regulations can limit, among others, are: particulate matter, mercury, nitrogen oxides, turpentine, lead, dioxin, total reduced sulfur (which gives kraft mills their characteristic odor), and – of far greater interest now than in 1986 – carbon dioxide.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The 30-day public comment period on the proposed consent decree is now open, and ends October 15. Industry may oppose or try to weaken the agreement, so your comments are vital. Ask the agency to affirm the proposed consent decree without any changes. Speak from your heart and your own experience about why this important.
Here’s how you can tell the EPA to regulate air pollution from paper mills:
Your comments must be identified as being for EPA Docket ID number EPA–HQ–OGC–2012–0730. There are three ways to submit your comments:
- On-line at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=EPA-HQ-OGC-2012-0730-0001; or
- By e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org; or
- By mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460–0001
QUESTIONS? Contact me at email@example.com, 907-747-7557.
About Our Co-plaintiffs and Attorneys
Our co-plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity and Port Townsend AirWatchers. For legal work we are grateful to Helen Kang and her law students at the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law and CBD’s Vera Pardee.