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Groups intend EPA lawsuit against pulp mill air pollution

Press release from the issuing company

Washington, DC  - Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Center for Biological Diversity today notified the Environmental Protection Agency of their intent to sue the agency for failing to review and update Clean Air Act rules for certain polluting pulp mills. The 60-day notice focuses on New Source Performance Standards for kraft pulp mills, which dissolve wood chips into fibers later used to make paper products.

New Source Performance Standards are a part of the Clean Air Act that ensure industrial air polluters maintain adequate pollution controls. 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.