Legal Challenge Alleges That Pennsylvania’s Pollution Plan Is Outdated

A new lawsuit is taking aim at the recent EPA approval of a Pennsylvania plan it says is outdated. The Environmental Protection Agency was subject to significant cutbacks during the Trump administration — the head of the EPA notably didn’t even believe in man-made climate change, which made him a strange choice to help fight it — and those cutbacks haven’t yet been completely rectified by the Biden administration.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and says that Pennsylvania’s plan for dealing with pollution is outdated at best.

Senior Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity Robert Ukeiley said, “Rubber-stamping weak and outdated measures that fail to control pollution from the methane gas industry is not how we’re going to transition to a clean energy economy. The EPA needs to ensure it’s requiring the best, most modern technology to control pollution from fossil fuels so the cost of dirty energy pollution is internalized and the economic playing field for clean energy is leveled.”

According to the EPA, Pennsylvania state is subject to increased ozone pollution, a type of smog associated with asthma, death, increased life span, and significant ecological and environmental damage. The pollution isn’t contained just to the state, though, and contributes to smog in other states downwind. 

The lawsuit said that Pennsylvania’s current standards have led to consistent violations of national standards.

Pollution affects minority populations disproportionately, turning the lawsuit into a race issue as well. 

Residential areas prone to increased smog see more ER visits, more school absences, more prescribed medications, and a higher incidence of death. The lawsuit also contends that the increased pollution has worsened the symptoms of COVID-19, making the pandemic hit Pennsylvania harder than it had to. 

Patients with underlying conditions like asthma are also more prone to serious complications from COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus.