EDF at Senate Subcommittee Hearing: Strengthened Smog Standards Urgently Needed to Protect Human Health and the Environment

December 17, 2014
Sharyn Stein, 202-237-7878, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C, — December 17, 2014) Strengthening national smog standards is necessary to protect public health, and is achievable through common sense and cost-effective solutions, according to Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) testimony before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee today.

The Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing today about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to strengthen the national standard for ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog. 

“Strengthened ozone standards are urgently needed to protect public health and many highly cost-effective, common sense clean air measures are available to help secure these needed health protections,” said Vickie Patton, EDF General Counsel, who testified today’s hearing. “Children, in particular, are considered the most at risk group because they breathe more air per unit of body weight, are more active outdoors, are more likely to have asthma than adults, and are still developing their lungs and other organs.”  

(Read Patton’s full testimony here

Smog is a dangerous air pollutant that is linked to asthma attacks and premature death.

In November, EPA proposed updating our national smog standards from their current level of 75 parts per billion to 65 to 70 parts per billion. EPA is also seeking comments on establishing a health standard of 60 parts per billion, and the scientific record shows that this level would provide the strongest public health protections for Americans. 

Today, Patton and others testified about the strong legal and scientific foundations for EPA’s proposal, and about the ability to meet those standards.

“Currently, 90 percent of areas designated nonattainment for the 1997 ozone health standards now meet those standards,” Patton said in her testimony. “The U.S. has already taken steps over the past few years that help to cost-effectively reduce ozone smog pollution and help restore healthy air.  Those protections include the Tier 3 tailpipe standards, supported by the U.S. auto industry, which will slash smog-forming pollution from new cars beginning in model year 2017 and the lower sulfur gasoline requirements will reduce pollution from every car on the road, and EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan which will substantially reduce smog-forming pollutants from power plant smokestacks nationwide.” 

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal to strengthen the smog standards through March 17, 2015. The agency is expected to issue a final decision by Oct. 1, 2015.

You can read more of Patton’s testimony here, and read more about the smog standards on EDF’s website.

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.