Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 14, 2017

Contact:  Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7118,
Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 655-3900 x 308,

Lawsuit Launched to Fight Trump Administration Delays in Cleaning Up Dangerous California Ozone Pollution

OAKLAND, Calif.— Environmental and public health groups filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt today for delays in ruling on ozone pollution plans to protect Californians living in some of the state's most heavily polluted areas. California suffers from some of the worst ozone pollution in the U.S. More than 3,600 deaths would be avoided in California each year if California were achieving clean air standards.

“We refuse to allow Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration to sidestep clean air laws that quite literally save the lives of thousands of Californians every year,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The EPA must enforce the Clean Air Act to save lives and protect the environment from the scourge of smog and ozone pollution.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide health and public welfare-based standards for ozone pollution and sets mandatory deadlines to develop plans to achieve and maintain air-quality standards. Today's notice, sent by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health, demands that the EPA enforce deadlines to ensure that areas violating air quality standards for more than eight years have plans to clean up their skies.

“Every additional day of delay puts more Americans at risk for potentially deadly diseases,” said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “We are going to fight the Trump administration to protect the right of all American children and families to clean air.”

Today's letter notifies the EPA of failures to develop plans to reduce ozone precursors in the greater Sacramento metropolitan area and five counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura.

People exposed to excess ozone may experience reduced lung function, increased respiratory problems like asthma, increased visits to emergency rooms and premature death. For trees cumulative ozone exposure can stunt growth and damage leaves as well as increase susceptibility to disease harms from insects and harsh weather. Sensitive tree species that are at risk from ozone exposure include black cherry, quaking aspen, ponderosa pine and cottonwood.

An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle and ozone pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone. For every dollar spent on reducing air pollution, Americans have received $30 of economic benefits.

While protecting the health of Americans, 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 working to keep air clean.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and supporters 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.

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