Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Hails Court Ruling Against Dangerously Weak Bush-Era Environmental Standards

February 25, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced a federal court ruling declaring that former President Bush's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally issued weak soot regulations without justification.

Blumenthal and other states sued the EPA for ignoring the advice of its own scientists to require reductions in deadly soot emitted from power plants, farms, automobiles and other sources.

The EPA -- rather than reduce the allowable limit of soot as recommended by its own scientists -- maintained existing lax limits. EPA scientists advised administrators that the reduction would save thousands of lives a year nationwide, but the EPA defied that advice with no explanation.

Fine particulate air pollution or soot collects in lungs, causing respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, asthma and premature death -- particularly threatening children, the elderly and other vulnerable citizens.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this week ruled that the EPA cannot disregard its own scientists' advice without justification.

"This federal court decision -- the latest in a series of hard-fought environmental victories -- marks the chiseling away of bad Bush-era environmental policies," Blumenthal said. "EPA administrators under President Bush defied and dismissed the recommendations of their own scientists.

"This unconscionable and unjustified disregard gravely threatened public health, particularly for children and elderly who may be most susceptible to chronic respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, asthma and death associated with excessive air pollution. President Obama's administration, already tearing apart dangerously bad Bush-era policies, may now establish more responsible stricter soot regulations."

Additional states and cities that participated include : California, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The States of Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts also joined as friends of the court.