Eleven states have failed to submit plans to reduce sulfur dioxide air pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week.
The states, the EPA said, have until late 2018 to reduce the pollution levels or finalize their own plans to do so, or the agency will write a federal implementation plan for the states.
In 2013, the EPA identified 29 areas in 16 states with unsafe levels of sulfur dioxide pollution, which comes from burning fossil fuels at power plants and in vehicles. Only a few of those states submitted plans to reduce the pollution levels.
The remaining states have until Oct. 4, 2018, to meet the sulfur dioxide standards established by a 2010 rule from the agency. If a states doesn’t write an attainment plan on its own, the EPA will step in to write a plan instead.
“The EPA is committed to working with these states to expedite the development and submission of their nonattainment area [plans] and to review and act on their submissions in accordance with the requirements of the [Clean Air Act],” the agency said.
In a statement, the Sierra Club accused the states of “stonewalling and making excuses when it comes to protecting the health of our communities,” and said the EPA should move quickly on drafting federal attainment plans.
“EPA should move now, and not wait two further years and allow more of our loved ones to end up in the emergency room,” said Mary Anne Hitt, the director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
“In these areas plagued with high rates of asthma and other health problems triggered by sulfur dioxide air pollution, lives literally hang in the balance.”