Environmental Justice Orgs Share Immense Disappointment in Supreme Court Decision to Block EPA’s Good Neighbor Pollution Rule

July 3, 2024
Media Contact: Ashley Sullivan, Ashley.Sullivan@weact.org

WASHINGTON – Late last week, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled to pause the implementation of a critical clean air regulation known as the Good Neighbor Plan. The rule, finalized in March 2023, aims to significantly reduce harmful smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from power plants and other industrial sources that impact downwind states ability to attain and maintain air quality standards for ground-level ozone.  

In response, the Clean Air for the Long Haul, a group of environmental justice organizations nationwide fighting for federal regulatory action to improve air quality and public health shared the following:

“The air we breathe does not have borders. The dirty air our communities continue to deal with due to legacy prejudicial policies of siting polluting facilities in our backyards is only made worse by the toxic air blowing in from neighboring cities and towns. We worked hard to ensure that a strong Good Neighbor Plan was finalized to curb unhealthy pollution from upwind states, especially for overburdened communities across the country. The Plan has already shown promising results, reducing 18 percent of toxic NOx pollution in 10 states during the 2023 ozone season. The Court’s ruling to halt its implementation dismisses  the voices of those most impacted and comes at a time where the high temperatures in the summer driven by climate change is causing more frequent high-ozone days for our communities.  

The Supreme Court is on a disconcerting path of voting out of step with what is needed to protect the environment and the needs of the people, as evidenced by this and other recent decisions. We are in dire need of movement building and policy that restores and advances environmental protections and equity. From vehicle emissions to the power sector, the Clean Air for the Long Haul Coalition has helped advance and will continue to push for strong rules like the Good Neighbor Plan that will help make our communities healthier and safer. We cannot move backwards. We cannot and will not allow biased courts to let industry poison our communities, remove our fundamental rights to clean air, and jeopardize our present and future.” 

Ground-level ozone – the main ingredient of smog – is linked to a number of serious health risks, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, heart disease, reproductive issues and metabolic disorders and even death. People of color are disproportionately exposed to unhealthy air, including ozone and most susceptible to its adverse health outcomes. Upwind Midwestern states have particularly been pervasive for parts of the Eastern US like New York, negatively affecting local air quality for these states. By 2026, the Good Neighbor Plan was projected to cut approximately 700, 000 tons of ozone season NOx pollution, preventing over a million cases of asthma symptoms and thousands of ER visits, lost work days, and premature deaths, especially in areas of low income and communities of color. SCOTUS’s decision to put the Plan on hold delays the public health benefits of the rule for the most vulnerable communities affected by cross-state ozone pollution, which increases with extreme heat caused by the climate crisis.

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 Clean Air for The Long Haul, a nationwide coalition of environmental justice groups, coordinates federal rulemaking campaigns, centering overburdened communities, to reduce air pollution from power plants, cars, and trucks. The coalition seeks to catalyze the environmental justice movement through federal emissions reductions targeting United States power and transportation sectors. Coalition member organizations include: Alternatives for Community and Environment, Clear Air NOW, Coalition of Community Organizations, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Duwamish River Community Coalition, Greendoor Initiative, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, South Bronx Unite, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, West End Revitalization Association, and Wisconsin Green Muslims. 


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