Clean Wisconsin files air quality standards lawsuit

, By Clean Wisconsin

MADISON — Clean Wisconsin and Midwest Environmental Defense Center filed a lawsuit today to compel the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to comply with federal requirements regarding air quality standards. In 2010, the EPA strengthened federal standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions to protect public health against dangerous short-term pollution spikes. Although Wisconsin is required under state and federal law to update our air quality regulations, DNR has not adopted these health-based standards. As a result, air quality enforcement and permitting in Wisconsin continues under outdated, inadequate standards. There are a number of ongoing public health issues in Wisconsin that stress the need for better air quality protections. Nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide cause or exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. In Wisconsin alone, more than 4,700 people were hospitalized with asthma and more than 19,000 who sought emergency room care for asthma in 2011. Over the past 15 years, the number of children with asthma has more than doubled.