Extremist Environmental Groups Take Cheap Shot at Bush Administration on Eve of Election

Published September 10, 2004

(September 10, 2004) A coalition of extremist environmental groups announced this morning that it has filed a lawsuit against the Bush administration for failing to issue permits to five coal-burning power plants in the Chicagoland area.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, lists the following as plaintiffs: American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Citizens Against Ruining The Environment, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Illinois Public Interest Research Group, Lake County Conservation Alliance, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, and the Sierra Club.

Joel Schwartz, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and contributing author to The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News, had the following comments on the lawsuit:

“Instead of focusing on the substantive issue of emission reductions, this group has chosen to focus on process requirements concerning permitting. It is important to note that the federal permitting system is just an administrative system and funding source for regulators, having nothing to do with air pollution reductions.

“Emission limitations are what reduce air pollution, but it’s the process requirements that groups like this want to see inserted into clean-air laws so they can gain publicity by suing over failure to satisfy the process requirements even when the substantive requirements are being met.

“All of Chicago’s ozone monitoring sites comply with EPA’s one-hour ozone standard and 82 percent comply with EPA’s much more stringent eight-hour ozone standard. The few sites that still exceed the eight-hour standard do so only a few days per year and by small amounts. All of Chicago complied with the one-hour ozone standard even in the early 1990s when emissions were much higher than today. Chicago reduced average soot levels by 18% between 1999 and 2003 (measurements didn’t start until 1999). Fifty-six percent of metro Chicago’s soot monitors still exceed EPA’s stringent new fine-particulate standard, but the exceedances are not large. All would come into compliance with reductions of just five percent to fifteen percent.

“Chicago, like most of the U.S., has achieved steady declines in air pollution due to ongoing declines in emissions from all major sources of air pollution, including motor vehicles and power plants. The activists’ lawsuit and press release will do much to mislead the public about air pollution trends and maintain an unwarranted climate of fear. This is good for environmental groups who want to raise money and increase their power, but it’s bad for the public, who will continue to be kept in the dark about Chicago’s success in reducing air pollution.”

Editors and reporters: Please consider contacting the following experts and analysts to comment on this lawsuit:

Dr. Jay Lehr, Science Director, The Heartland Institute, 740/368-9393.

Mr. Joel Schwartz, Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, 916/203-6309.

Mr. James Taylor, Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News, 941/776-5690.

The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. Founded in 1984, its goal is to help build social movements in support of ideas that empower people. It is supported by approximately 1,500 donors and Members. No corporate donor gives more than five percent of its annual budget. For more information, call Nicholas Tyszka at 312/377-4000, or email him at [email protected].