February 10, 2012 / 10:06 PM / 8 years ago

EPA sued by 11 US states over soot pollution

* EPA said to miss deadline to review air quality standards

* States seek court order mandating review

* Soot emitted by power plants, diesel vehicles

By Jonathan Stempel

Feb 10 (Reuters) - Eleven states, including California and New York, sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to compel it to review clean air standards for soot pollution nationwide, after the agency had missed an October deadline.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court seeks a court order demanding that the EPA fulfill its obligation under the federal Clean Air Act to review, and as necessary update the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the pollution.

According to the states, the Clean Air Act requires air quality standards for pollutants such as soot to be updated as necessary every five years. They said the EPA has not reviewed these standards since October 2006.

Soot is also known as “fine particulate matter pollution” or “PM 2.5,” and is often produced by power plants as well as diesel buses and trucks.

“Clean air is a public right,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “The EPA must take prompt action to reduce pollution now, and safeguard the health of the public and the air we breathe.”

The EPA “is continuing to work on proposing the PM 2.5 standards,” spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara said.

Schneiderman said an estimated one-third of the U.S. population, or more than 100 million people, are particularly susceptible to harm from soot, including children and senior citizens.

He also said one in 17 Americans live in areas with unhealthy soot levels, citing the American Lung Association.

Other states that brought the lawsuit are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The lawsuit names EPA administrator Lisa Jackson as a defendant.

The case is New York et al v. Jackson, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-01064. (Reporting By Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington, D.C., editing by Matthew Lewis)

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