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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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April 15, 2024

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, alongside 16 attorneys general, filed a motion to intervene in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to defend the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final particulate matter (PM) standards rule against legal challenges. 

Last month, EPA finalized the rule to strengthen National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), also known as soot. Currently, the rule is being challenged by several states, and separate challenges have also been filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and industry associations. These challenges aim to weaken the new PM2.5 standards and, if successful, would curtail the many health, environmental, and economic benefits of the rule, and disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color.

“I am urging the court to uphold the EPA’s final particulate matter standards rule to protect people in Illinois and around the country from hazardous air pollution,” Raoul said. “I will continue to defend environmental standards to ensure our quality of air does not pose serious health risks.” 

Exposure to PM2.5 causes significant health impacts, including increased rates of heart disease, serious respiratory impacts and increased death rates. Fine PM2.5 particles can travel deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream and, therefore, pose a greater risk to health than larger particles. 

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to set NAAQS for several pollutants, including PM2.5, at a level that protects public health and welfare. Once the NAAQS are set, states are tasked with implementing those standards. In its decision last month to strengthen standards, EPA acknowledged that the concentration of PM2.5 allowed under the previous standard did not meet the Clean Air Act’s requirement that standards be set at a level necessary to protect public health and welfare, with an adequate margin of safety. 

Joining Raoul in filing the motion are attorneys general from Arizona, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and New York City.