Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 6, 2017

Contact:  Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7118,
Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 655-3900 x 308,

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration's Delay in Cleaning Up Dangerous Ozone Pollution in Sacramento, Southern California

OAKLAND, Calif.— Public-interest groups today sued Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for delays in reducing dangerous ozone pollution in the Sacramento area and parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Today's lawsuit, filed in federal district court by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health, demands that the EPA enforce deadlines to ensure that areas violating air-quality standards have plans in place to clean up their skies.

California suffers some of the worst ground-level ozone pollution in the United States. More than 3,600 deaths per year would be avoided if the state were meeting stronger clean-air standards.

“Kids with asthma in California are paying a terrible price for the Trump administration's refusal to force polluters to clean up their act,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Properly enforcing America's clean-air laws in our state would save the lives of thousands of Californians.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide public-health standards for ozone pollution and sets mandatory deadlines to develop plans to achieve and maintain air-quality standards. Yet eight years after ozone standards were established, key parts of those air-quality plans still aren't in place.

“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. “We are going to fight the Trump administration to protect the right of all American children and families to clean air.”

In his previous role as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA to block lifesaving pollution-prevention measures.

Since becoming EPA chief, Pruitt has refused to release his schedule, raising concern that he's continuing to build cozy relationships with polluters while ignoring his charge to protect human health and the environment. The Center last month sued for these public documents. 

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

An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce ozone pollution prevented more than 4,300 deaths and 3.2 million lost school days in 2010 alone. The Clean Air Act has also helped to keep the U.S. economy healthy by creating jobs, with more than 1.7 million Americans employed in the environmental technology industry helping to keep our air clean.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 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.

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