EDF Calls on EPA to Protect Americans from Smog by Quickly Finalizing Area Designations

February 7, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – February 7, 2017) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has filed comments urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with its legal duty to protect Americans from smog.

EDF’s comments call on EPA to “expeditiously finalize” area designations under the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone – more commonly called smog. The designations play a crucial role by letting all areas of the country know whether they are in attainment with our national clean air standards for smog, or if they should take steps to reduce pollution and protect the health of their citizens.

“All Americans deserve clean air, and are entitled to know whether the air they breathe meets the national health-based standard,” said EDF attorney Rachel Fullmer. “It is imperative that EPA finish the area designations for smog quickly, so communities suffering from unhealthy levels of pollution can take steps to reduce it.”

Smog is one of the harmful pollutants that EPA is required to regulate under the Clean Air Act. It 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.

EPA strengthened America’s smog standard in 2015 based on an extensive scientific record showing that earlier standards were inadequate to protect public health and welfare. EPA estimates that when communities meet the 2015 smog 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 children each year.

EPA faced a legal deadline of October 1, 2017, to identify areas that have unhealthy pollution levels and must clean up their air because they violate the 2015 smog standard. When EPA missed that deadline, EDF and a broad coalition of public health, environmental, and community groups filed a lawsuit.

EPA accepted public comments on the area designations through February 5, and has said it will finalize those designations by April.

You can read EDF’s full comments here.

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