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Environmental Groups Announce Plans to Sue EPA Over Ozone Standards

Several environmental groups have announced they intend to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. They’re trying to force the agency to take action on ozone pollution.

The letter gives the EPA 60 days to take action, or else the groups will sue. They want the EPA to identify communities that have unsafe levels of ozone pollution, as they’re required to under the Clean Air Act.

John Walke is the director of air for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit.

“We are suing to make sure the Obama Administration does carry out the smog standards that were adopted in 2008 to ensure that clean up measures will be put in place,” he said.

Walke says there’s one way for the EPA to avoid being sued:

“At the end of that 60-day period the administration could have announced concrete steps and issued demands to the states to begin the process to clean up smog pollution,” he said.

But if they don’t, the groups will file a suit in federal court and try to get the EPA put on a court-enforced schedule to order pollution reductions.

The EPA missed a deadline in March to adopt National Ambient Air Quality standards as required under the 2008 Bush-era ozone rules. Last month, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the agency was abandoning a draft standard until at least 2013.

According to an EPA review of air quality data over the past three years, 52 metropolitan areas wouldn’t be able to meet the new standard. One of the areas on the list is the Cincinnati metro area, including parts of Northern Kentucky.

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Kentucky Ranked High in List of 20 ‘Most Toxic’ States

Kentucky is among the states with the worst air quality, according to a report released this week.

The report was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, but used data self-reported by industries and publicly available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Kentucky ranked fourth in the list of the 20 ‘most toxic’ states.

Not only does Kentucky rank high on the list, but all of the commonwealth’s border states were also named as top polluters. John Walke is the director of the NRDC’s Clean Air Program.

“Unfortunately what this means is Kentucky residents are breathing higher levels of toxic air pollution, due not only to power plants in the state, but power plant toxic pollution in the surrounding states, including upwind states,” he said.

But Walke says he’s optimistic that air quality in Kentucky can improve.

“Of the ten dirtiest power plants in the state of Kentucky, we’ve found that three of them have either installed controls or are constructing pollution controls since this data was available to sharply reduce their toxic air pollution,” he said.

Seventy-seven percent of Kentucky’s air pollution came from power plants, and Walke says Kentuckians should see a difference after the Environmental Protection Agency’s new air pollution regulations go into effect