EPA to Update Pulp Mill Air Toxics

A warning by Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Center for Biological Diversity of the groups’ plan to sue the EPA for failure to update rules on air emissions required by the Clean Air Act has spurred the agency into action. For information on the rulemaking see http://yosemite.epa.gov/opei/RuleGate.nsf/byRIN/2060-AQ41#2

Below see the letter sent by the two organizations that succeeded in moving the EPA.


For Immediate Release, July 22, 2010

WASHINGTON— Today Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Center for Biological Diversity officially notified the Environmental Protection Agency of their intent to sue the agency in 60 days for its failure to review and update Clean Air Act rules, called New Source Performance Standards, for kraft pulp mills. Kraft pulp mills dissolve wood chips into fibers later used to make paper products.

New Source Performance Standards are a mechanism under the Clean Air Act for ensuring that industrial sources of air pollution maintain adequate pollution-control technology. Although the Clean Air Act mandates that EPA review these standards for each source of air pollution at least every eight years, EPA has not reviewed the pollution-emission standards for kraft pulp mills for 24 years.

“Over the last 24 years technology has come a long way,” said Patty Clary of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, “but kraft pulp mills are still stuck in the ’80s.”

Kraft pulp mills emit a substantial amount of air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur compounds, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Only two of these pollutants, particulate matter and sulfur compounds, are currently subject to the performance standards. If EPA does not act quickly to update the standards, the groups intend to file a lawsuit and seek a court order requiring the agency to review the standards to ensure that all significant air pollutants from kraft pulp mills are addressed.

Pulp mills also generate considerable greenhouse gases during their industrial processes, another pollution category that remains unregulated by the performance standards. Because greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare, EPA should set performance-standard emission limitations for these pollutants as part of its review.

“The New Source Performance Standard program has the capacity to be a powerful safeguard for the air we breathe; let’s make sure it’s used to its full potential,” said Vera Pardee, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“The case is simple: the EPA has a mandatory deadline and has chosen to ignore it for over a decade,” said Helen Kang, Director of the Golden Gate University Environmental Law and Justice Clinic.

This 60-day notice of intent to sue is required by the citizen suit provision of the Clean Air Act.

For More Information:

Pulp Mill Fact Sheet (45 kb pdf file)

CATs' Notice of Intent (590 kb pdf file)


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