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PROVIDENCE – Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said that Rhode Island has joined 10 other states in filing a lawsuit looking to force the federal Environmental Protection Agency to issue rules against soot.
According to a news release, the EPA failed to meet an October 2011 deadline to adopt national air standards to limit soot pollution. The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in New York City. It asks the court to direct the EPA to propose, and then finalize, soot-pollution standards.
The 11 states asked the court to enforce an earlier order to the EPA to issue a new standard for soot. The earlier order had been won by the states in February 2009, in a lawsuit that had been filed in 2006, and was supposed to be fulfilled in October 2011.
Under the current standards, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management estimates that roughly 50 people die prematurely every year in Rhode Island from heart disease related to soot pollution.
Providence County ranks among the worst 6 percent of all counties in the United States for health impacts from diesel soot pollution, according to the news release. The average lifetime cancer risk from diesel soot for Providence County residents is 330 times higher than the acceptable risk level determined by the EPA itself.
The other states joining are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. •