In a recent decision described by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as “a resounding victory for public health and a key component of EPA’s efforts to make sure all Americans have clean air to breathe,” the Supreme Court backed federally imposed limits on smokestack emissions that cross state lines. The ruling, issued on April 29th, upholds rules adopted by EPA in 2011 that force polluting power plants to limit the emission of pollutants that ultimately contaminate the air in downwind states and cause smog and acid rain. The Supreme Court held that under the Federal Clean Air Act, the EPA can regulate states that do not adequately control downwind pollution. According to the EPA, the reduction in air pollution will result in hundreds of billions of dollars in health care savings and prevent more than 30,000 premature deaths.
As acknowledged by the EPA and public health agencies, environmental exposures to contaminated air and water are significant risk factors in human illnesses, including cancer. Unfortunately, decades of improper chemical disposal has left a legacy of thousands of contaminated waste sites across the country. As a result of this legacy — today — homeowners from coast to coast are learning that their homes have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals like TCE, PCE, Benzene and Vinyl Chloride.
Hopefully, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling will spare future generations from the very real consequences of environmental pollution.