Three Conservation Groups Intend to Sue the EPA for Failing to Enforce Pollution Rules in Poor Communities


Via Flickr

Nicole Welle | June 4, 2020

The Center for Biological Diversity issued a press release on May 28 announcing a lawsuit against the EPA for delaying the reduction of sulfur dioxide air pollution in a number of communities.

Areas of Missouri, Louisiana, Indiana, Puerto Rico and Guam were included in the lawsuit issued by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Environmental Health and the Sierra Club. The cities and counties listed in the lawsuit are being exposed to dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide, an air pollutant produced by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA by law to set air quality standards, determine when and where air pollution exceeds the national limit, and ensure that plans are in place to clean up that pollution by a set deadline. In the current affected areas, the EPA has missed these deadlines by anywhere from two months to over four years.

The EPA has already determined that exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide air pollution can lead to health problems in humans and trigger ecological harm. The people in the areas listed are currently at a higher risk of heart and lung disease, asthma and contracting COVID-19 due to constant exposure to the pollution. Sulfur dioxide pollution also contributes to acid rain and damages lakes, rivers and entire ecosystems.

Young children and the elderly are more vulnerable and at a higher risk, and the problem is made worse by the fact that the areas in the lawsuit include large minority and indigenous populations that are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and air pollution.

Iowa DNR report shows improvements in Iowa’s air quality since 1978


Iowa Department of Natural Resources)

Nick Fetty | May 13, 2016

Air quality in Iowa has improved dramatically over the past five decades according to a recent report by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The report – Ambient Air Quality Improvements in Iowa – finds that harmful air pollutants such as sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides have declined, 60 percent and 43 percent respectively, since 1978. Both compounds can lead to respiratory issues and sulfur dioxide can contribute to acid rain. These health effects can be especially harmful to children, the elderly, those with lungs diseases, and those who exercise outdoors.

In 1978, 13 Iowa counties recorded air pollution levels that exceeded National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) compared to just two counties in 2015: Muscatine and Pottawattamie. Council Bluffs, the county seat in Pottawattamie County, exceeded NAAQS standards for lead particles in the air in 2010 and 2012 but those levels were below the NAAQS standards from 2013 to January of 2016. Muscatine, the county seat in Muscatine County, experienced unsafe levels of fine particulate matter in the air in 2009 and 2010 but those levels have since declined. Additionally, data in Muscatine showed excessive levels of sulfur dioxide in 2008 and 2010 but levels have also declined since 2010.

The reductions in harmful air pollutants across the state has in part been attributed to newer, more efficient equipment and technology. Despite the overall improvements in Iowa’s air quality, the state’s productivity, population, and travel miles have increased since 1978, all of which can be potential sources contributing to air pollution.

Industrial Muscatine continues to struggle with air pollution, health affects


This story, originally published by Midwest Energy News, was republished under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. Midwest Energy News is a daily collection of the top energy stories of importance to the region. Its objective is to keep stakeholders, policymakers, and citizens informed of the important changes taking place as the Midwest shifts from fossil fuels to a clean energy system.

By B. Adam Burke

An Iowa town with the worst air quality in the state is again under EPA scrutiny after years of maintaining allowable air pollution levels.

But plans to clean up emissions from burning coal won’t be adopted for several years, leaving residents in a haze of regulation and red tape.

Last month, the EPA declared Iowa’s pollution-fighting plans “substantially inadequate” for maintaining fine particulate matter standards in Muscatine, an industrial town on the Mississippi River. Continue reading

Muscatine, Council Bluffs cited for dirty air


Photo by Mike Willis.

Oooh, that smell. Can’t you smell that smell? Last week residents in Muscatine and across the state in Council Bluffs may have caught a whiff of something because both cities were cited for exceeding EPA air pollution limits.

Muscatine had too much sulfur dioxide wafting through its air, and Council Bluffs had too much lead.

Those unconcerned with air quality may contend that the true problems in these cases are associated with more stringent regulation. Last August the EPA’s allowance of sulfur dioxide grew stricter and in October 2008 strictness for the lead standard increased tenfold.

But both forms of pollution are regulated for a reason. Short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can increase the likelihood of contracting asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or other lung and heart disease. And it can worsen the symptoms of those who already have such conditions. Continue reading