Elevated cancer risks also affect an area known as “Cancer Alley” along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and New Orleans, as well as around Houston, Texas. Both of those regions also have clusters of polyether polyol production facilities, according to the lawsuit.
The Louisiana Environmental Action Network and the Sierra Club joined the West Virginia organization in its lawsuit against the EPA. Environmental groups commonly pursue legal action when the agency misses deadlines.
The EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to review and update emission standards for hazardous air pollutants every eight years, but the agency hasn’t made any substantive revisions to the emission standards for this source category since 1999, according to Adam Kron, an attorney for Earthjustice representing the environmental groups.
In 2014, the EPA made minor changes to how polyether polyol is monitored and measured but decided not to make any revisions to emissions rates after a review that looked at whether the current standards adequately protect communities against health risks.
In the lawsuit, the environmental groups argue that the EPA has failed to perform its required duties by missing its 2022 deadline.
Because regulators missed the deadline, the lawsuit is asking the court to find the EPA in violation of the Clean Air Act and to compel the agency to update the emissions standards by a swift deadline set by the court itself.
The EPA declined to comment because of the pending litigation.
The groups argue in the lawsuit that in addition to missing deadlines, EPA’s regulation has failed to keep up with science. In 2016 — two years after the EPA reviewed the standards — the agency determined that ethylene oxide’s cancer risk was nearly 60 times greater than previously thought. ProPublica
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