Lawsuit Filed to Force EPA to Close Loophole on State Emissions’ Standards Rule

Press Room

Justine Thompson, Executive Director, GreenLaw, (404) 659-3122,
Patty Durand, Sierra Club, Chapter Director, Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, (404) 607-1262, x 226,

(Atlanta, GA, April 30, 2007) Today, GreenLaw [formerly the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest] filed its second lawsuit within a month in federal court seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into much-needed action—this time to stop awarding industrial polluters illegal exemptions from emissions standards. The EPA has known, but not acted upon, the flaw in Georgia’s air pollution rules since at least 2005.

GreenLaw [formerly the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest] is representing Sierra Club in this matter.

“I find it frustrating that we have to sue EPA to make the agency do its job,” said Justine Thompson, Executive Director of GreenLaw [formerly the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest]. Georgia Sierra Club Executive Director Patty Durand added, “We are optimistic about the outcome we will have given the change in the judicial climate change since the Supreme Court environmental decisions earlier in the month.”

Thompson explained that the state rules contain an exemption that allows companies to exceed permitted levels of pollution during special conditions of operation. Such exemptions are illegal because the Clean Air Act requires industrial plants to comply with emission standards continuously.

Sierra Club discovered the loophole when it sued Georgia Power for violating emission standards governing power plants. Almost two years ago, Sierra Club petitioned EPA to close the loophole, but EPA has never responded. Said Durand, “Once Sierra Club brought this problem to EPA’s attention, federal law requires that EPA take action, but EPA has done nothing.”

Thompson commented, “It seems that EPA is so busy these days creating new exemptions for polluters, it has no time left to do its job. Just last week, the very same office that has done nothing to rid Georgia’s air rules of these illegal exemptions proposed a new, illegal relaxation of national air quality rules that flouts the recent Supreme Court decisions. EPA has gone seriously astray.”

GreenLaw [formerly the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest] is a non-profit organization that provides free high quality legal assistance to local, state and national environmental organizations working to protect Georgia’s natural resources from unlawful air and water pollution.

The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization with over 12,000 members in the State of Georgia. Additional information may be found at