Toronto submits case to U.S. court on health impact of cross-border smog Medical Officer of Health calls on Premier McGuinty to take action|
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The City of Toronto filed a legal brief today with a U.S. court in support of a
lawsuit against the American Electric Power Corporation (AEP) for violation of
the U.S. Clean Air Act.
In the brief, Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health,
highlights the adverse health impact on Toronto residents of transboundary smog
from U.S. coal-fired power plants.
"We are taking this action to ensure the court is aware that the pollution from
U.S. power plants is causing harm to people in Toronto," said Dr. McKeown.
"When an air-polluting American company violates U.S. law, the courts should
take account of the cross-border health impacts."
Dr. McKeown also called on the Ontario government to take legal action in the
fight against transboundary smog. "The Premier has said the government is
considering its options. Given the record number of smog alerts this summer,
it's time to step up the pressure."
There have been 41 smog alerts issued for Toronto in 2005. Research shows about
half the city's air pollution comes from U.S. sources, such as coal-fired power
The United States Justice Department, eight state governments and a number of
environmental organizations have joined in a lawsuit against nine coal-fired
power plants operated by AEP. The plaintiffs argue that AEP has increased
pollutant emissions as a result of modifications to its plants that do not meet
emission control standards required by U.S. law.
In 2000, Toronto City Council authorized the City Solicitor and the Medical
Officer of Health to apply to become a Friend of the Court (Amicus Curiae) in
the case against AEP. The application was accepted and the case is now at the
trial stage before an Ohio District Court.
Toronto Public Health estimates that every year about 1,700 premature deaths
and 6,000 hospitalizations of Toronto residents can be attributed to air
pollution. A recent Ontario government study found that U.S. transboundary
pollution accounts for some 2,750 premature deaths and $5 billion in health and
environmental damages annually to the province.
For more information and to view the legal brief visit www.toronto.ca/health.
Toronto Public Health