– Attorney General Anne Milgram announced
that a federal appeals court today sided with
New Jersey and other states who had challenged
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s
(EPA) annual air quality standard for microscopic
pollutants known as particulate matter or
In a 2006 petition filed with the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,
New Jersey and the other states challenged
a then-new rule adopted by the federal government
which set both daily and annual standards
for air borne particulate matter. The rule
toughened the daily National Ambient Air Quality
standard for particulate matter. However,
it left the annual standard for the same pollutants
– 15 micrograms per cubic meter –
unchanged, contrary to the advice of EPA’s
own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee had recommended a standard
of between 13 and 14 micrograms.
Jersey and the other participating states
took issue with EPA having ignored its own
scientific advisory committee. Also, the states
contended that EPA had failed to meet its
legal obligation under the federal Clean Air
Act to set limits on air pollutant concentrations
that are adequate to protect public health
with a margin of safety.
Today, the Court of Appeals ruled that the
federal government’s standards for fine
particulate matter are “in several respects
contrary to law and unsupported by adequately
reasoned decision-making.” The court
directed EPA to revisit its standards to ensure
they protect public health with a margin of
safety, and to provide scientific support
for its ultimate determination.
ruling validates our original contention that
the EPA, under its former leadership, abdicated
its legal responsibility under the Clean Air
Act,” said Attorney General Milgram.
decision is important because it clears the
way for EPA, under new leadership, to issue
new, more stringent standards for fine particulate
matter. Having adequate standards –
with a margin of safety as required by federal
law -- is vital to our environment and, most
importantly, to the health of New Jersey residents.”
is harmful at any level,” said DEP Acting
Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello, “so
we applaud today's ruling requiring the EPA
to take a second look at the emissions standard
for fine particles. We hope that review will
result in a tighter federal standard that
better protects public health.
matter is the general term used for a mixture
of solid particles such as dust, ash and smoke
in the air. Found in a variety of emissions,
including those from power plants, automobiles,
wood combustion and diesel engines, particulate
matter has been linked to debilitating lung
and cardiovascular illnesses when breathed
in high concentrations or inhaled consistently
over extended periods of time.
The particulate matter regulated by the EPA
is the smallest type – less than 2.5
microns in diameter – and is widely
recognized as being especially threatening
to human health because of its ability to
lodge deep in the lungs.
The position of New Jersey and the other states
is that even low concentrations of particulate
matter breathed over the course of a year
can lead to environmental harm and health
problems for humans, and that the existing
annual federal limits fail to provide adequate
In addition to New Jersey, the states of California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
Oregon, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental
Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District
of Columbia and the South Coast Air Quality
Management Distric were party to the challenge
to federal standards for particulate matter.
The States of Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts
also joined as friends of the court.
Deputy Attorneys General Kevin Auerbacher
and Jung Kim, assigned to the Division of
Law’s Environmental Enforcement and
Homeland Security Section, handled the matter
on behalf of the state.