(Austin, TX – August 28, 2018) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today slammed the state of Texas for its “irresponsible and dangerous” decision to sue over vital smog protections instead of cleaning up its air.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its determination – based on air quality monitoring data collected over multiple years – that smog pollution in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, violates the nation’s health-based standard. They filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today.
“It’s outrageous that our state’s response to hearing that pollution is at unhealthy levels in San Antonio is to sue the people who said so,” said EDF’s Colin Leyden. “Bexar County families deserve to be protected from smog and the serious health problems it causes. It’s irresponsible and dangerous for Texas to waste taxpayer money on this lawsuit instead of spending that money to clean up our air.”
In March, after months of delay, a different court ordered Scott Pruitt’s EPA to start implementing the health-based 2015 Ozone Standard (EDF was a party to that case). Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog. It is a dangerous pollutant that is linked to asthma attacks, long-term lung damage and premature death.
The first step toward implementing the Ozone Health Standard is to determine those areas of the country that have pollution levels that exceed the standard. That action is fundamental in telling all who live and work in the area whether their air is safe to breathe, and it begins the community-based effort to restore healthy air. Those areas with unhealthy ozone levels are said to be in nonattainment.
EPA found that Bexar County was in nonattainment. Implementing the smog standard could prevent numerous deaths and thousands of hospitalizations each year in Bexar County. The state government could work with EPA to reduce the elevated levels of pollution in Bexar County – but instead, it is suing EPA to overturn the designation.
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