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US appeals court rejects NC challenge of air pollution rule

The Eiffel Tower as seen through thick smog last year, when fine-particle pollution smothered several French cities including Paris.
The Eiffel Tower as seen through thick smog last year, when fine-particle pollution smothered several French cities including Paris. AFP/Getty Images

An appeals court Tuesday dismissed North Carolina’s challenge of federal air pollution rules, saying the state filed its claim too late.

The case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit arose after the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule limiting fine-particle pollution in 2010.

Fine particles form when gases released by power plants, industries and motor vehicles react in the air. Breathed in, they can work their way deep into the lungs and cause lung and heart problems and premature death.

North Carolina’s challenge argued the EPA based its new rule on the wrong section of the Clean Air Act, according to Tuesday’s dismissal order.

But it came too late, the appeals court ruled – three years after the 60-day deadline for such challenges had expired.

The Southern Environmental Law Center represented Charlotte-based Clean Air Carolina, the North Carolina Coastal Federation and Asheville’s MountainTrue in joining the case on the EPA’s side.

“This has been a tremendous waste of North Carolina’s limited resources, as the state chose to expend valuable time and energy challenging an important public health protection, even though it knew the filing deadline has already passed,” law center attorney Myra Blake said in a statement.

Henderson: 704-358-5051;

Twitter: @bhender

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