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UK facing air pollution lawsuit

[JURIST] Environmental law firm ClientEarth filed [press release] a lawsuit on Friday against the government of the UK for its alleged failure to combat illegal air pollution. The law firm filed papers stating that the UK experiences 40,000 early deaths from air pollution every year and that "the government is in breach of a Supreme Court order to clean up air quality, having failed once against to take appropriate action in the face of this public health crisis." ClientEarth filed the suit at the High Court in London, named the UK Environment Secretary as the defendant, and named ministers from Scotland and Wales, the Mayor of London, and the Department for Transport as "interested parties" in the case. Last year, the Supreme Court held [judgement, PDF] in favor of ClientEarth and ordered the government to submit new air quality plans to bring down air pollution. The new lawsuit asks [Guardian report] the court to strike down those plans and to order the government to create new ones. The law firm says [Reuters report] that the first plans were inadequate to decrease nitrogen dioxide emissions.

In the US last month, more than 200 members of Congress filed [JURIST report] an amici curiae brief in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over regulations on carbon dioxide emissions. Also last month, the US Supreme Court ordered [JURIST report] that the Obama administration delay enforcement of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) pending a resolution to legal challenges. The request to block the implementation of the CPP was made in late January, with states insisting [JURIST report] that the plan's implementation would create a burden on states. In June the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] 5-4 that the EPA could not make regulations regarding the toxic emissions of power plants without considering costs.

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