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States sue EPA over construction runoff.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the decision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to issue national guidelines and standards for harmful storm water pollution discharges from construction sites.

"Dirty runoff from construction sites is one of the largest sources of water pollution," Spitzer said. "EPA knows this and agreed to address the problem by setting strong national standards. But now EPA refuses to act. States need these standards to protect the water we all rely on for drinking, swimming, fishing and recreation."

Blumenthal added: "We are vigorously challenging EPA to adopt a national policy to properly protect local and national waterways. While Connecticut has strong rules and tough enforcement, a lack of stringent nationwide standards creates an unfair economic development advantage for states with flimsy regulations."

On June 24, 2002, under a court order, EPA proposed guidelines and standards for storm water pollution from the construction and development industry. Despite EPA's legal obligation to finalize these pollution controls, EPA announced on April 26, 2004 that it would withdraw its proposal.

Sediment and other storm water pollutants, such as oils, pesticides and heavy metals associated with construction, can significantly impair drinking water reservoirs, lakes, rivers and coastal waters. EPA has acknowledged that polluted runoff from construction sites can exceed that from undisturbed sites by 1,000 times or more.

Under the Clean Water Act, EPA is required to promulgate technology-based standards for industrial pollutant discharges, including discharges associated with construction and land development. Once issued by EPA, state agencies incorporate the standards into permits for local construction and development activities.

Many states, including New York and Connecticut, already regulate storm water pollution discharges associated with construction and development of land. By failing to set minimal national standards for reducing these discharges, the states say the EPA has undermined their efforts to protect their own waters and endangers interstate waters.

Studies by EPA and others have shown that cost-effective technologies are available to control and manage polluted runoff from construction and development sites. The studies found that today's technology can reduce pollution by as much as 90 percent.
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Title Annotation:Construction & Design; Environmental Protection Agency of United States
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 15, 2004
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