EDF, Allies Plan to Take Legal Action to Defend America’s Smog Standard

October 4, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

Washington, D.C. – October 4, 2017) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will go to court to defend America’s clean air standard for smog.

EDF joined a broad coalition of public health, environmental, and community groups in sending a notice of intent to sue to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. The letter warns that the groups will take legal action if Pruitt does not carry out his duties under the law and begin implementing the 2015 smog standard.

“EPA has a legal and moral duty to protect Americans from the dangers of smog. Ignoring the legal deadlines set by the Clean Air Act is unacceptable,” said EDF Lead Attorney Peter Zalzal. “Moving forward with these protections will provide life-saving benefits to our families and communities, and make sure we all have cleaner, safer air to breathe.”

Ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog, is a caustic pollutant that irritates the lungs, exacerbates lung conditions like asthma, and is linked to a wide-array of serious heart and lung diseases. Ozone pollution is particularly harmful for children, seniors, people with lung impairments like asthma, and anyone active outdoors.

The 2015 smog standard would reduce the amount of smog allowed in our air. EPA estimates that, when communities meet the standard, it will save hundreds of lives each year, prevent 230,000 asthma attacks in children each year, and prevent 160,000 missed school days for kids each year.

EPA faced a legal deadline of October 1, 2017, to identify the areas that must clean up their air because they violate the 2015 smog standard – formally known as finalizing the initial area designations.

In June 2017, Administrator Pruitt announced that he intended to delay finalizing the initial area designations. EPA later withdrew its plan to delay and reinstated the October 1, 2017 deadline – in response to a legal challenge filed by EDF and others.

The October 1 deadline has now passed, however, and EPA has not acted.

Any further delay buys more time for polluters to avoid using the effective emission controls the Clean Air Act requires – and puts the health of American families at increased risk from more dangerous pollution in our air.    

The American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, American Thoracic Society, Appalachian Mountain Club, Earthjustice, Environmental Law & Policy Center, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and West Harlem Environmental Action joined EDF in filing the notice of intent to sue.

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