Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 22, 2018

Contact: Robert Ukeiley, (720) 496-8568,

Lawsuit Launched to Fight Trump EPA's Delays in Protecting Louisville From Deadly Soot Pollution

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Conservation and public-health groups filed a formal notice of intent today to sue President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for failing to ensure that the city of Louisville has enforceable limits on dangerous soot pollution. Soot air pollution causes thousands of early deaths every year and triggers heart problems, asthma and lung disease.

Today’s notice seeks to force the EPA to ensure that Louisville has a local limit on soot pollution, as required by the U.S. Clean Air Act. The deadline for the city to have the local soot limit in place passed more than five years ago. Soot, otherwise known as particulate matter, is generated from fossil fuels used in coal-fired power plants, cars and other industrial facilities. 

“Every day of delay on cleaning up Louisville’s air puts more people at risk for asthma and heart attacks,” said Robert Ukeiley, an environmental health senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Clean Air Act’s one of America’s most successful tools for protecting our health, so we can’t let the Trump administration and corporate polluters sacrifice lives through delay.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide health and public-welfare-based standards for particulate pollution. It also sets mandatory deadlines to develop plans to achieve and maintain air-quality standards. Today’s notice, submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health, demands that EPA chief Pruitt ensure that there’s a local limit on how much soot can foul Louisville’s air. 

“This illegal delay in getting a local soot limit in place is further evidence that Pruitt’s claims about respecting the rule of law and working to reduce air pollution is really just a smoke screen,” Ukeiley said. “While Trump and Pruitt are pandering to polluters, people in Louisville are left breathing dirty air.”

In his previous role as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA to block lifesaving pollution-prevention measures. He is under investigation for misrepresentations about his use of a personal email account while attorney general of Oklahoma to communicate with the oil and gas industry about weakening the EPA’s environmental standards. 

Soot, referred to as “particulate matter” by the EPA, is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Particulate matter is made up of tiny particles, about 30 times smaller than the width of the average human hair, that can lodge deep in the lungs. It causes a range of health problems for people and wildlife; results in regional haze; harms plants; and acidifies water bodies.

An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone. The Clean Air Act has also helped 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 1.6 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.

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