Environmental justice in Middletown

In the final days of the Trump administration, the USEPA removed one of the key components of Ohio’s federally enforceable air pollution rules, called the Air Nuisance Rule. Without this rule, people in Ohio cannot file citizen suits to enforce the Clean Air Act when emissions from an industrial facility are harming their welfare, health, environment or property.

Sierra Club’s Law Department is representing Sierra Club in this effort and affected residents represented by AltmanNewman. We are worked to convince USEPA to reconsider their decision but they declined to do so. We have now challenged USEPA’s decision in federal court and the current schedule for final briefs to be submitted by early July.

Ohio’s air nuisance rule has been repeatedly violated by Cleveland-Cliffs the current owner of the steel mill in Middletown, yet Ohio EPA has not taken action to stop the pollution from harming nearby residents, despite hundreds of complaints and violations. The systemic lack of enforcement is one of the key reasons why Congress included citizen suit provisions in the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws. In the absence of government enforcement, people can file in federal court and get enforcement themselves.

Sierra Club is continuing to work with residents in Middletown to stop the harmful pollution they are enduring and reinstating the Air Nuisance Rule so that residents have this tool to help protect their health. The Air Nuisance Rule, if enforced, will help many communities that lack resources and attention from elected officials, get the protection they need. We are also working with University of Cincinnati to survey residents, provide information to them about pollution, share their stories and collectively seek to insure there is environmental justice in Middletown.

If anyone would like to help organize in Middletown, contact Marilyn Wall at [email protected].

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