Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 22, 2017

Contact:  Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

Senate Hearing to Focus on Delaying Lifesaving Pollution Standards

Ozone Standards Would Prevent 1,400 Premature Deaths Yearly

WASHINGTON— The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on S. 452, legislation authored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), to impose a 10-year delay on lifesaving ground-level ozone standards set in 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that achieving the 2015 70 parts-per-million ozone standard would prevent more than 1,400 premature deaths annually. Parts of Arizona and California would be the hardest hit if the changes are delayed.

“If Sen. Flake's deadly legislation becomes law, thousands of Americans will die prematurely, and tens of thousands of children will continue having debilitating asthma attacks that could be avoided,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Poor and disadvantaged communities in urban areas will be hit the hardest by this giveaway to dirty fossil fuel companies.”

Ground-level ozone pollution is a significant source of respiratory problems and leads to more asthma attacks, missed school days, missed work days and premature deaths. The 2015 ozone standard was set at 70 parts per million, replacing the Bush administration standard of 75 ppm from 2008. 

Ozone pollution is caused by emissions from power plants, factories, solvent use and motor vehicles. Ozone is the principle component of smog. Under the EPA's analysis, impacts of ozone pollution would hit areas of Arizona, the Central Valley of California and Southern California the hardest. The agency estimates that under the Bush era standard of 75 ppm, dozens of people died prematurely every year in Arizona's most populous counties.

“Sen. Flake is advocating for legislation that will directly result in more ozone-caused deaths in Arizona and more children in the hospital with asthma attacks,” said Hartl.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must revise National Ambient Air Quality Standards, like those set for ground-level ozone, every five years. The Act requires that the EPA set these standards at a level that will protect human health with an adequate margin of safety.

Ozone mortality

Figure courtesy EPA. This image is available for media use.

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.

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