Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 28, 2017

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

Despite Serious Health Impacts, House Committee OKs 10-year Delay in Smog Reductions

California, Arizona Among States Most at Risk of Harmful Effects

WASHINGTON— The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved legislation introduced by Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) that would allow states to delay meeting the 2015 Clean Air Act standards for ozone for 10 years. The bill would also make a key change to the Clean Air Act, requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to review ambient air-quality standards only every 10 years instead of every five.

Legislation similar to Olson's bill was introduced in the Senate by Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in February.

The EPA estimates that meeting the 2015 ozone standard of 70 parts per billion would prevent more than 1,400 premature deaths annually. Parts of Arizona and California would be the hardest hit if the changes are delayed.

“Cleaning up ozone pollution saves lives. Delaying it will actually kill people,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Shamefully, poor people from disadvantaged communities and 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 billion, replacing the Bush administration standard of 75 ppb 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.

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.

“Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, but this legislation attacks the heart of this fundamental right,” said Hartl.

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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