Maryland yesterday became the first state to lose the authority to enforce federal clean air laws. The loss is the result of the state’s failure to act on a U.S. EPA order to create more public participation in the industrial permit application process. Under Maryland law, only the owners of property abutting an industrial polluter can protest a permit application, a stipulation that violates the federal Clean Air Act. The Sierra Club sued the EPA last year to enable more citizen participation in Maryland and many other states. An EPA official said that the agency was slated to approve plans to increase participation in Virginia and D.C., but that Maryland had failed to meet a Dec. 1 deadline to show progress with its program. The EPA will now oversee industry requests for permits in the state.

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