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Canadian cities petition EPA to reduce US air pollution from power plants

[JURIST] The Sierra Legal Defence Fund [advocacy website] petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency [official website] Wednesday on behalf of thirteen Canadian cities - including Toronto, Windsor and Halifax - to mandate the reduction of air pollution from 150 coal-fired power plants in the US. The petition [PDF text; press release] asks the EPA to direct a reduction of carbon dioxide and other gas emissions in seven US states as "these air contaminants are causing or contributing to air pollution...acid rain, and climate change...[and] endanger public health or welfare in Canada." Sierra alleges that the 150 US plants in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky release roughly the same amount of greenhouse gases as the whole of Canada and virtually double the amount of Canadian domestic pollution as their byproducts blow north and east.

Under Section 115(a) of the Clean Air Act [text], whenever the EPA Administrator:

has reason to believe that any air pollutant or pollutants emitted in the United States cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare in a foreign country...the Administrator shall give formal notification thereof to the Governor of the State in which such emissions originate.
If the EPA fails to act on Sierra's request, the parties maintain the right to bring suit in US courts against the EPA. Earlier this year, the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals held that the EPA cannot exempt [JURIST report] US coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities from a requirement to install new pollution controls to keep up with emissions changes. CBC News has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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