Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 3, 2017


Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7118,
Christopher Ahlers, Clean Air Council, (215) 567-4004 x 125,

Lawsuit Launched to Fight Trump EPA Delays in Cleaning Up Dangerous Soot Pollution in California, Idaho, Ohio, Pennsylvania

OAKLAND, Calif.— Environmental and public health groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for failing to enforce limits on dangerous soot pollution that causes thousands of deaths every year.

Today's lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to ensure that communities in California, Idaho, Ohio and Pennsylvania are taking legally required steps to meet clean-air standards. Soot, otherwise known as particulate matter, is generated from fossil-fuels used in coal-fired power plants, cars, power plants and other industrial facilities. 

“Every day of delay puts more Americans at risk for asthma and heart attacks,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Clean Air Act is one of the most successful tools for saving lives and protecting air, so we can't let the Trump-Pruitt team sacrifice lives through delay.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide health and public-welfare-based standards for particulate pollution and sets mandatory deadlines to develop plans to achieve and maintain air-quality standards. Today's notice, submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health and Clean Air Council, demands that the agency set up plans to reduce dangerous soot levels. 

“The EPA and these states are ignoring their duty to clean up our skies to protect all of us from dangerous pollution,” said Christopher Ahlers, staff attorney at the Clean Air Council. “There's no reason for EPA to delay stronger protections that hold polluters accountable and protect Americans suffering from dirty air resulting from combustion activities.”

In his previous role as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA to block lifesaving pollution-prevention measures. Pruitt is under investigation for misrepresentations about his use of a personal email account to communicate with the oil and gas industry about weakening the EPA's environmental standards while attorney general of Oklahoma. 

Soot, referred to as “particulate matter” by the EPA, is produced from the burning of fossil fuels. Particulate matter is made up of tiny particles about 30 times smaller than the width of the average human hair and can lodge deep in the lungs. It causes a range of health problems for people and wildlife, results in regional haze, harms plants and acidifies water bodies.

An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone. The Clean Air Act has also helped to keep the U.S. economy healthy by creating jobs, with more than 1.7 million Americans employed in the environmental technology industry helping to keep our air clean.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Environmental Health works with parents, communities, businesses, workers, and government to protect children and families from toxic chemicals in homes, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods.

The Clean Air Council is a member-supported environmental organization serving the Mid-Atlantic Region that is dedicated to protecting and defending everyone's right to breathe clean air.

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