Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Groups Challenge EPA for Clean Air Delays

Earthjustice

Several groups filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue letter Oct. 6 against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the agency’s failure to identify communities throughout the nation that have unhealthy levels of ozone air pollution. The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA to formally identify the areas that are not meeting the ozone standards set in 2008 which limits ozone in the air to 75 parts per billion (ppb). Identifying these areas is essential to triggering clean-up plans for those regions with unsafe pollution levels.

Based on recent data, regions that should be designated as violating standards include Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Los Angeles; Sacramento, Calif.; San Diego; San Francisco; Dallas; New York City; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Atlanta; and more than two dozen additional communities across the U.S. The EPA was originally required by law to identify these areas by March 12, 2010, in a formal process called designating nonattainment areas. It missed that legal deadline. While the agency granted itself a one-year extension for designating ozone nonattainment areas, until March 12, 2011, it also failed to meet this deadline.

The public interest law firm Earthjustice is representing the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association and Appalachian Mountain Club in this action.

“These delays are intolerable when people are breathing dangerous levels of ozone in these cities,” said Earthjustice attorney David Baron. “The longer the EPA puts off getting these cities on the cleanup track, the more lives are at risk.”

Ground-level ozone, a component of smog, is linked to premature deaths, thousands of emergency room visits and tens of thousands of asthma attacks each year. Ozone is especially dangerous to small children and senior citizens, who are often warned to stay indoors on polluted days.

“Curbing smog is one of our most urgent tasks and it’s way past time for our government to take decisive action,” said John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It is the EPA’s responsibility to protect and clean up the nation’s air, and its failure to meet the March 2011 deadline is inexcusable,” said Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “This delay jeopardizes the health of millions of Americans, as breathing smog-polluted air can lead to coughing and wheezing, restricted airways, hospitalization and for some, death.”

“In 2011, national parks experienced hundreds of exceedances of the ozone standards, more than in any of the past three years,” said Mark Wenzler, vice president for Climate & Air Quality Programs at the National Parks Conservation Association. “Without EPA action to enforce the ozone standards, Americans will continue to be put needlessly at risk when they visit our national parks.”

“Clean air needs to be a priority if we are going to be successful at reconnecting American families with healthy outdoor activities,” said Georgia Murray, air quality staff scientist with the Appalachian Mountain Club. “The EPA must move quickly to improve outdoor air quality for our nation’s health.”

“Our families and our communities have a right to know whether the air is unhealthy to breathe,” said Peter Zalzal, an attorney with Environmental Defense Fund. “Identifying the communities with unhealthy smog levels is a critical first step to putting in place smart clean air solutions. States have already submitted information required by the Clean Air Act, and the EPA must now act to help protect public health from harmful smog pollution.”

For more information, click here.

air

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less
Berber woman cooks traditional flatbread using an earthen oven in her mud-walled village home located near the historic village of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, Africa on Jan. 4, 2016. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. /NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt

The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More Show Less
Danny Choo / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Olivia Sullivan

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.

Read More Show Less
A mostly empty 110 freeway toward downtown Los Angeles, California on April 28, 2020. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The shelter in place orders that brought clean skies to some of the world's most polluted cities and saw greenhouse gas emissions plummet were just a temporary relief that provided an illusory benefit to the long-term consequences of the climate crisis. According to new research, the COVID-19 lockdowns will have a "neglible" impact on global warming, as Newshub in New Zealand reported.

Read More Show Less
Centrosaurus apertus was a plant-eating, single-horned dinosaur that lived 76 to 77 million years ago. Sergey Krasovskiy / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Scientists have discovered and diagnosed the first instance of malignant cancer in a dinosaur, and they did so by using modern medical techniques. They published their results earlier this week in The Lancet Oncology.

Read More Show Less
Parks keep people happy in times of global crisis, economic shutdown and public anger. NPS

By Joe Roman and Taylor Ricketts

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is the deepest and longest period of malaise in a dozen years. Our colleagues at the University of Vermont have concluded this by analyzing posts on Twitter. The Vermont Complex Systems Center studies 50 million tweets a day, scoring the "happiness" of people's words to monitor the national mood. That mood today is at its lowest point since 2008 when they started this project.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The ubiquity of guns and bullets poses environmental risks. Contaminants in bullets include lead, copper, zinc, antimony and mercury. gorancakmazovic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she will attempt to dismantle the National Rifle Association (NRA), arguing that years of corruption and mismanagement warrant the dissolution of the activist organization, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less