Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 21, 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 Challenges Delays in Cleaning Up Ozone Pollution Affecting
90 Million People Across United States

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

OAKLAND, Calif.— A coalition of environmental and public-health groups filed suit today against the Environmental Protection Agency over the failure of 16 states — including California and New York — and the District of Columbia to finalize plans to reduce ozone pollution. Ozone pollution poses serious threats to public health, wildlife and ecosystems. More than 90 million people live in the areas suffering unhealthy ozone pollution that are covered by the suit.

“Millions of people are relying on the EPA to protect them from smog and ozone pollution — to say nothing of the wildlife and environment damaged by it,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We can’t wait any longer while air pollution keeps causing hospitalizations and premature deaths across America.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide, health and public-welfare-based standards for ozone pollution. It sets up 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 Clean Air Council, demands that the agency correct violations of air-quality standards set in 2008 in order to establish plans to reduce dangerous ozone levels. The EPA has failed to enforce deadlines for dirty areas 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. Ecosystems are also affected: 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 at risk from ozone exposure include 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.”

Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have failed to finalize plans to reduce dangerous ozone pollution, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists 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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