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E-M:/ Release: S.115 Petition
- Subject: E-M:/ Release: S.115 Petition
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2005 13:26:02 -0400
- Delivered-to: email@example.com
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-name: Enviro-Mich
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Canadians take on U. S. coal-fired plants
over smog and climate change
(Windsor, Canada) Conservation and environmental organizations from
across Eastern Canada today filed a Section 115 Petition with the
U.S. EPA Administrator. This action seeks emission reductions of
contaminants from the 250 U.S. Midwest coal-fired power plants that cause
smog and acid rain in Canada. Emissions from these plants also have
serious global consequences associated with climate change.
Windsor is a fitting location for Derek Coronado of the Citizens
Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, and Albert Koehl, a lawyer
from Sierra Legal Defence Fund, to launch the Petition. Windsor is one of
the areas hardest hit by transboundary air pollution, where the mortality
rate from dirty air is twice as high as the next highest ranked city,
Toronto. Ninety percent of some smog-causing pollutants in Windsor come
from Detroit and other parts of the U.S. Midwest. In major cities like
Toronto and Montreal up to half of the smog contribution is from US
Sierra Legal filed the Petition on behalf of the coalition of groups
(Friends of the Earth-Canada, Citizens Environment Alliance of
Southwestern Ontario, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Centre for
Environmentally Sustainable Development, STOP, Ecology Action Centre and
Conservation Council of New Brunswick). The petitioners are all situated
in the path of the U.S. Midwest contaminant plume.
The Section 115 Petition of the US Clean Air Act is the first step
for litigation that can proceed if the Director of the US Environmental
Protection Agency fails or refuses to take action to reduce emissions
from the coal fired power plants.
?This petition is both a challenge to the EPA and an opportunity for it,?
said Albert Koehl, the lawyer representing the groups. ?We would rather
sit down and work with the EPA to clean the air and protect our climate
than face off against them in court. But my clients will not stand idly
by as tens of thousands of Canadian and American lives are cut short by
preventable emissions of poisons from coal-fired power plants.?
The Midwest power plants emit millions of tons of SO2 and NOx annually.
Carried by prevailing winds into the populous Windsor to Quebec City
corridor, they contribute to the smog that results in thousands of
premature deaths each year and causes respiratory illnesses in children
and other vulnerable groups. These emissions contribute to acid rain in
Eastern Canada, particularly Atlantic Canada. Also emitted are
millions of tons of CO2, which cause climate change impacts such as heat
waves, drought, and violent storms.
?We cannot wait any longer for clean air,? said Derek Coronado of the
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario. ?After the smog
episodes of the last several weeks, who can blame us for demanding it?
This isn't just for our benefit because millions of our American friends
and neighbours breathe this dirty air first before the wind brings it our
?We are at the end of North America?s tailpipe,? said David Coon of New
Brunswick's Conservation Council.?
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was commended for closing the first of
five Ontario coal fired power plants and for convening the upcoming
Share the Air Summit between U.S. and Canadian government and
industry representatives. The Coalition organizations remain anxious to
see real and measurable progress in the form of cleaner air as the
Summit?s outcome, and immediate attention to curbing emissions from both
Canadian and US sources.
Don Huff, Huff Strategy & Communications 416-972-7404
Albert Koehl, Staff Lawyer, Sierra Legal Defence Fund 416-368-7533 ext 26
Derek Coronado, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
The petitioning groups are:
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario [Windsor]
Toronto Environmental Alliance [Toronto]
Friends of the Earth Canada [nationally?based, Ottawa]
Ecology Action Centre [Halifax, Nova Scotia]
Centre for Environmentally Sustainable Development
STOP [Montreal, Quebec]
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
S. 115 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA Administrator
to act if he has reason to believe that pollutants from the U.S. are
endangering the health of Canadians. S. 115 of the Act says:
Whenever the Administrator, upon receipt of reports, surveys or studies
from any duly constituted international agency 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.
There have been two previous cases involving acid rain where groups
launched actions under s. 115 to force EPA action. Both cases were
dismissed on technical or procedural grounds. In the most recent case
filed by the government of Ontario in the late 1980's, the court
concluded that the action was premature because the EPA had not yet fully
determined the source of the contaminants.
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act provides a similar
remedy to Americans for pollution emanating from Canada. In 2003, the NY
Attorney General filed a complaint with NAFTA?s Commission for
Environmental Cooperation (CEC) alleging that Canada was failing to
enforce pollution laws, including s. 166 of CEPA, against Ontario?s dirty
coal fired power plants resulting in pollution in downwind US states. The
complaint, supported by various Canadian groups including Sierra Legal,
was ultimately dismissed, partly on the basis of Ontario?s promise to
close its coal-fired power plants.
If the EPA Administrator fails to act or delays in acting then he can be
sued under provisions of the Clean Air Act or the Administrative
Procedures Act. Although the Administrator has no deadline for
deciding on the petition, a failure to deal with it or a denial allows
the groups to sue him in US courts at any time.
The evidence of transboundary pollutants and the resultant endangerment
to Canadians is documented in numerous international reports from the
United Nations, OECD, CEC, and the International Joint Commission. These
reports could be used in a suit under s. 115 of the Clean Air Act to show
that the EPA?s refusal to act constituted arbitrary or capricious conduct
or an abuse of the Administrator?s discretion. On the issue of climate
change, the US National Academy of Sciences, which advises Congress, and
the EPA itself have confirmed the fact of climate change and its
According to the EPA and NAFTA?s Commission for Environmental
Cooperation, there are available and affordable technologies that could
reduce emissions of SO2 and NOx by 90% or more.
Research and Policy Coordinator,
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
275 Oak Avenue
phone: (519) 973-1116
fax: (519) 973-8360