24 States Sue EPA Over New Soot Pollution Limit

The agency cites health risks of air pollution as reason for the new limit; states appear concerned it will kill their economies.

2 minute read

March 11, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


A factory smoke stack billows out black smoke into a blue sky.

argot / Adobe Stock

This week a group of 24 states filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new air pollution limits. The rule, announced last month, updated national air-quality standards for the first time in twelve years, significantly lowered limits for annual particulate matter (commonly referred to as soot) from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 9. According to an article from The Hill, the new soot limits are slated to take effect in 2023, at which point states that do not meet the limit would be required to implement policies to improve PM2.5 levels.

“The EPA estimates that in that year, compliance costs could be $590 million. But it estimated that health benefits could be worth between $22 billion and $46 billion and include up to 4,500 lives saved,” reports Rachel Frazin.

Though the lawsuit does not outline states’ reasons for suing, Frazin points to a press release from Kentucky Attorney General Coleman that suggests they are suing on the grounds that the rule could drive jobs and investment out of their states.

The Biden administration’s rule change comes as national or global conversations around air quality and pollution’s role in poor health outcomes — particularly in poor communities and communities of color — have heated up. Earlier this year, a report from the First Street Foundation found that roughly 25 percent of Americans live in places with unhealthy air quality, which is only being exacerbated by climate change, and Redfin announced that it will be adding an air quality score to the data it provides on home listings.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024 in The Hill

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