SC-Notice on Intent to Sue EPA on Air Pollution

SC-Notice on Intent to Sue EPA on Air Pollution  

The EPA failed to issue attainment determinations in several states under the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. States including New Jersey, Connecticut and New York failed to attain the standards with ozone levels at 0.086 (ppm). The 2008 ozone NAAQS are met at an ambient monitoring site when the design value does not exceed 0.075 parts per million (ppm). Nitrous Oxide (NOx) is a precursor to ground level ozone. High levels of ozone from natural gas power plants and pipelines. The Sierra Club sent a notice of intent on to sue and will take further action if they do not hear from the EPA.

“The EPA has failed to adequately protect our lungs from pollution. The agency did not issue important air regulations and standards dealing with ozone. New Jersey as some of the worse air pollution in the county. Our state is suffering from high levels of ozone. NOx pollution from natural gas power plants and pipelines is one of the major causes. NOx is also a precursor to ground level ozone,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We just filed an intent to sue EPA because they have not done their job. It is unfortunate to force EPA to do what’s right for not protecting our air.”

In New Jersey there are 13 proposed fossil fuel projects including 5 natural gas power plants. These plants included the Meadowlands Power Plant, the Musconetcong, Keasby-Woodbridge, the Sewaren 7, and Bl England. They would emit heavy metals and chemicals like ammonia and nitrogen oxide.

Some of the proposed pipelines include the PennEast Pipeline, Southern Reliability Link, South Jersey Gas Pipeline, NESE project, Garden State Expansion Project. These natural gas power plants and pipelines have seen major opposition from residents, public officials, and environmental groups.

“With all of these proposed power plants, pipelines, and compressor stations, it will increase ground level ozone and New Jersey is doing nothing about it. Natural gas plants are another source of harmful ground level ozone that will only bring more asthma and health problems, especially into our environmental justice communities. The Meadowlands proposed power plant for example, would be a major blow to air quality especially since the region already has some of the worst air pollution in the entire country. The air pollution from the smoke stacks of these power plants not only affects our lungs, but can make its way into our water sources primarily through atmospheric deposition,” said Tittel. “Unfortunately, DEP does not regulate NOx air deposition. By going after ozone and with New Jersey being out of compliance, it will force the Murphy Administration to deal with power plants and pipelines. This will further the need for a moratorium.”   


Mobile sources contribute to ozone pollution too. This is the biggest area of air pollution and GHGs in New Jersey. They are responsible for over 45% of our greenhouse gasses in New Jersey come

vehicles and our state suffers from failing air levels.

“We have parts in New Jersey where people are choking on exhaust. A lot of ground level ozone comes from automobiles. Our state gets impacted because we are a corridor state getting pollution from in and out of state that are driving on our turnpikes and other major highway. That is why it is critical for New Jersey to work to reduce our GHG emissions from our mobile sources and move forward with electric vehicles,” said Tittel.


Ozone is a colorless, odorless gas that can effectively burn sensitive lung tissues when inhaled, leaving scarring and potentially permanent damage. The pollutant can trigger symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath, and it worsens and may cause diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Bad Ozone happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight. On hot sunny days, these compounds react with oxygen in the air to produce ozone (O3), or smog, at ground level.

“We need to tell the EPA to do their job and make sure they protect us from harmful ozone. This is especially important in New Jersey than most states since we are at the end of the air stream and get a third of our air pollution from out of state. Smog pollution is dangerous because when people inhale smog it is like getting a sunburn on your lungs. In New Jersey, we are seeing more and earlier bad ozone days making it harder for people to breathe,” said Tittel. “Almost every county in New Jersey that conducts monitoring has a failing grade for ozone. Bergen and Hudson county already have an F rating by the American Lung Association for ozone pollution. Ozone levels are so high that it may put sensitive individuals at risk, including such as children, the elderly and people suffering from asthma, heart disease and other lung ailments.”

In New Jersey we can do more to reduce air pollution. This includes reentering New Jersey in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in a timely fashion. New Jersey can work towards transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2050 which would reduce the amount of fossil fuels releasing greenhouse gasses. We can electrify our state by encouraging more EVs and less diesel-powered automobiles.

“With climate change, ground level ozone is getting worse. We are seeing more and earlier bad ozone days because of the failures to clean up pollution and fight climate change. Besides going after ground level ozone, New Jersey has to go after C02. By reducing C02 levels, we can reduce NOx levels. New Jersey already has the power to regulate carbon dioxide but we haven’t done anything about it. Meanwhile, the Murphy Administration has watched as more and more dirty infrastructure projects try to infiltrate our state. New Jersey has the authority to do to deny Title V permits for Natural Gas Power Plants. The BPU also has the authority to regulate GHG’s and deny projects that increase GHG’s,” said Tittel.

Entities potentially directly affected by this proposed action include state, local, and tribal air pollution control or management agencies. Individuals and entities potentially indirectly affected by this action include owners and operators of sources that emit volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) emissions, which contribute to ground-level ozone formation within the ozone nonattainment areas that are the subject of this proposed notice.

“If the EPA does not step up to protect our lungs, then we will file suit and make sure they do. In the meantime, New Jersey needs to do more to reduce air pollution and protect ourselves from the environmental rollbacks of the Trump Administration that worsen our air quality and lead to more health effects. Clean air is an essential part of a healthy economy. Reducing air pollution will not only reduce health costs and sick days for the residents of New Jersey but investing in renewable will create jobs and protect our environment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “EPA needs to act, otherwise we will take additional steps. We must fight and keep on fighting to protect our health and our children’s health, it’s too important not to.”


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