Obama Administration Sued for Scrapping New Ozone Standards
Public health and conservation groups filed a lawsuit Oct. 11 against the Obama administration for rejecting stronger ozone standards that scientists say are needed to save lives and prevent thousands of hospital visits. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the stronger standards almost two years ago, but President Obama directed the EPA to drop the proposal on Sept. 2, 2011. Rejection of the protective standards leaves in place weaker Bush-era ozone standards that leave tens of thousands of Americans at risk of suffering serious health impacts, according to leading medical organizations.
Earthjustice is representing the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Appalachian Mountain Club in this challenge.
Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog and is the most widespread air pollutant. Ozone is linked to premature deaths, increased asthma attacks and breathing problems, as well as increased emergency room and hospital admissions. This pollutant poses an especially serious risk to children, seniors and people with lung diseases like asthma and bronchitis.
“The rejection of stronger standards was illegal and irresponsible in our view,” said Earthjustice attorney David Baron. “Instead of protecting people’s lungs as the law requires, this administration based its decision on politics, leaving tens of thousands of Americans at risk of sickness and suffering.”
The 2008 standards limit ozone in the air to 75 parts per billion (ppb). Strengthening the standards to 60 ppb would have saved up to 12,000 lives every year, prevented 58,000 asthma attacks and avoided 21,000 hospital and emergency room visits, according to the EPA estimates. The suit is the latest in a series of court actions by Earthjustice over more than a decade seeking stronger protections against ozone pollution.
In 2008, Earthjustice filed suit challenging the Bush ozone standards on behalf of the same organizations. That suit was put on hold when the EPA said it doubted the adequacy of the Bush standards and proposed to strengthen them. The agency assured the court that it would finish its proposal to strengthen the standards by August 2010, and then repeatedly delayed releasing the standards. That 2008 suit is now on track to resume in the wake of the administration’s abrupt rejection of the EPA’s long-awaited proposal.
“The Obama administration’s inaction in cleaning up ozone pollution, and its decision to ignore the strong recommendations of the scientific community, jeopardizes the health of millions of Americans,” said Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “If the administration had followed the law, new smog standards would have saved lives and resulted in fewer people getting sick.”
“It is critical to move forward with a science-based standard that reduces smog and protects public health,” said Peter Zalzal, an attorney with Environmental Defense Fund. “The administration’s decision to reject a more health-protective standard for smog puts thousands of Americans’ lives at risk and ignores a unanimous recommendation by the leading experts on this issue—EPA’s scientific advisory board.”
“The White House made a serious mistake by stopping these standards,” said John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We were counting on the administration to set ozone standards that would protect our health but now have to go back to court to get the protection we all deserve.”
The EPA’s science advisors have repeatedly and unanimously called for protective ozone standards, as have the nation’s leading medical and health organizations, including the American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, American Heart Association and American Medical Association.
For more information, click here.
- Singapore Will Plant One Million Trees by 2030 - EcoWatch ›
- Australia to Build the World's Largest Solar Farm to Power Singapore ›
- Giant Water Battery Cuts University's Energy Costs by $100 Million ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.
Transmission lines from the Churchill Falls generating station in Labrador. Douglas Spott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Atlantic sturgeon were brought to the brink of extension in the 20th century and are now are listed as an endangered species. NOAA
Near Happy Valley-Goose Bay on the Churchill (Grand) River downstream from Muskrat Falls. Douglas Sprott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia in 2017. Jason Woodhead / CC BY 2.0
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island is the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Dennis Schroeder / NREL / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.
- Earth Is Hurtling Towards a Catastrophe Worse Than the Dinosaur ... ›
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- Humans Release 40 to 100x More CO2 Than Volcanoes, Major ... ›
By Teri Schultz
Europe is in a panic over the second wave of COVID-19, with infection rates sky-rocketing and GDP plummeting. Belgium has just announced it will no longer test asymptomatic people, even if they've been in contact with someone who has the disease, because the backlog in processing is overwhelming. Other European countries are also struggling to keep up testing and tracing.
Meanwhile in a small cabin in Helsinki airport, for his preferred payment of a morsel of cat food, rescue dog Kossi needs just a few seconds to tell whether someone has coronavirus.