Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 7, 2017

Contact:  Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 817-8121,
Denni Cawley, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, (385) 707-3677,

Public Records Sought on EPA Delays in Reducing Dangerous Smog Pollution

Pruitt Unilaterally Postponed Requirements for States to Cut Harmful Ozone

WASHINGTON— Public-interest groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request today seeking public records illuminating Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's decision to unlawfully delay, by a year, a Clean Air Act requirement for states to reduce dangerous ozone pollution.

The records request was made by the Center for Biological Diversity and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

Each year ground-level ozone pollution causes more than 1,000 premature deaths, millions of asthma attacks and billions of dollars in lost productivity. Despite these well-documented harms from ozone pollution, Pruitt announced this week that the EPA will delay until October 2018 the deadline for states to provide evidence they are complying with the healthier ozone level.  

The delay, which Pruitt asserts is needed to gather additional information, ignores the fact that all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and six tribal areas have already submitted all the information the EPA needs to make the determinations.  

“Americans have a right to know why the EPA is obstructing these urgent, lifesaving measures recommended by the agency's own scientists,” said Brett Hartl, the Center's government affairs director. “Once all the facts are laid bare, we're likely to discover a trove of details about Pruitt's push to help polluters. And I bet we'll find virtually no mention of helping the millions of Americans struggling with life-threatening asthma attacks.” 

“Delaying compliance means another year where our families will face higher rates of disease and more premature deaths,” said Dr. Brian Moench, a member of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment board. “This is another example of the new EPA acting to protect polluting fossil fuel industries instead of public health.”  

Before Pruitt's decision, states were required to submit information to the EPA this year on whether they were meeting the new 70 parts per billion ozone standards. Under the Clean Air Act, after providing this information, states must develop plans to reduce pollution and meet the new standards.

Now states will have an additional year — with a new October 2018 deadline — prior to even beginning to take action to address ozone pollution.

“This repulsive decision by Pruitt is nothing more than a gift to polluting industries so his cronies can keep trying to undermine this critical safeguard,” said Hartl. “Pruitt's only been at the EPA for a few months, but he's already taken virtually every opportunity to sacrifice human health and the environment simply to inflate corporate profits.”

An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce ozone pollution prevented more than 4,300 deaths and 3.2 million lost school days 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 supporters dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

More press releases