Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 12, 2016

Contact:  Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 655-3900 x 308
Joe Minott, Clean Air Council, (215) 567-4004 x 116

Lawsuit Launched to Fight Delays in Cleaning up Ozone Pollution

Twenty-two States Plus Washington, D.C. Fail to Set Up Clean-air Plans

OAKLAND, Calif.— A coalition of environmental and public-health groups filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency today because 22 states and the District of Columbia have failed to finalize plans to reduce ozone pollution, posing serious threats to public health, wildlife and ecosystems.

“Ozone pollution leads to thousands of hospitalizations and premature deaths each year in the United States,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center. “We can’t wait any longer. The EPA needs to take steps now to enforce the Clean Air Act, both to save lives and to protect the environment from the scourge of smog and ozone pollution.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide, health and public welfare-based standards for ozone pollution and sets mandatory deadlines to develop plans to achieve and maintain air-quality standards. Today’s lawsuit, brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health and the Clean Air Council, demands that the agency correct violations for air-quality standards set in 2008 in order to establish plans to reduce dangerous ozone levels. The EPA has failed to enforce deadlines to ensure that dirty areas have plans to clean up their skies.

“Every additional day of delay puts more Americans at risk for potentially deadly diseases,” said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “It is far past time for action to ensure clean air for all American children and families.”

People exposed to excess ozone may experience reduced lung function, increased respiratory problems like asthma, increased visits to emergency rooms, and potentially premature death. For trees, cumulative ozone exposure can lead to reduced growth and visibly injured leaves, as well as increased susceptibility to disease, damage from insects and harsh weather. Sensitive tree species that are at risk from ozone exposure include trees such as black cherry, quaking aspen, ponderosa pine and cottonwood.

“The EPA has an obligation to the public to ensure that regulations are approved in a timely way," said Joe Minott, executive director and chief counsel at the Clean Air Council. “The public has a right to rely on government following the law in order to properly protect public health.”

Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C., have failed to finalize plans to reduce dangerous ozone pollution, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennsessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and supporters dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Environmental Health works with parents, communities, businesses, workers, and government to protect children and families from toxic chemicals in homes, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods.

The Clean Air Council is a member-supported, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone's right to breathe clean air.

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