Lawsuit Launched to Fight Ozone Pollution in U.S.

12 February 2016 | Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Oakland, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency today because 17 states and the District of Columbia have failed to meet clean air standards to reduce ozone pollution, which poses serious threats to public health, wildlife and ecosystems.

“Millions of Americans are being unjustly denied the chance to live in communities with clean air and clear skies,” said Jonathan Evans, Environmental Health legal director at the Center. “The Clean Air Act saves lives, protects wildlife and clears up smoggy skies, but only when polluters are forced to clean up their act.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to identify and set “national ambient air quality standards” for pollutants such as ozone. In 2008 the EPA set clean air standards for ozone and required areas to meet those standards by July 20, 2015. More than seven years later, 17 states and Washington, D.C., have failed to reduce ozone pollution to healthy levels and the EPA has failed to enforce deadlines to ensure that dirty areas are cleaning up their skies.

“Ozone silently attacks our lungs, needlessly increasing emergency room visits and deaths for the children and elderly who are the most vulnerable to air pollution,” said Evans. “The EPA needs to take steps right now to implement the Clean Air Act to save lives and protect the environment from the scourge of smog and ozone pollution.”

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.

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., have failed to achieve air quality standards for ozone. This includes six California counties (Imperial, Kern, Mariposa, Nevada, San Luis Obispo and San Diego); the greater metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburg and St. Louis; the city of Sheboygan; and the entire state of Connecticut.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and supporters dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Contact: Jonathan Evans, (213) 598-1466, jevans@biologicaldiversity.org


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