WASHINGTON— Two environmental groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to require adequate smog controls for the oil and methane gas industry in the Metro Chicago area and five parts of California. Many of these areas, which together are home to more than 26 million people, already have some of the worst air quality in the country.
The EPA has already determined that the areas have ozone pollution, commonly referred to as smog, at levels that can trigger ecological harm and human health problems.
The U.S. oil and methane gas industry is the nation’s largest industrial source of the volatile organic compounds contributing to smog. Yet the EPA has failed to ensure that industry has proper pollution-control technologies in place for the Chicago-Naperville area and several areas of California, including the Los Angeles and Sacramento metro areas, the Coachella and San Joaquin valleys and Ventura County.
“The EPA has to stop ignoring the oil and gas industries’ outsized role in fueling the health problems caused by smog,” said Ashley Bruner, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As we transition away from fossil fuels, reducing harmful emissions from the oil and methane gas industry can improve the health of thousands of children and save lives.”
Smog impairs lung function, causes asthma attacks and aggravates respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, which can lead to premature death. Children, older people, people who work or exercise outside, and those with respiratory conditions are most at risk. Every year that smog continues to violate the national standards, up to 390,000 more asthma attacks will occur in children.
A 2021 survey of western voters spanning the political spectrum found 91% of them support requiring oil and methane gas companies to use updated equipment and technology to prevent leaks of methane gas and other pollution into the air.
“Not only is there bipartisan support to reduce emissions from the oil and methane gas industry, but the law requires it,” said Kaya Sugerman of the Center for Environmental Health. “The Clean Air Act requires that EPA take concrete steps to improve the health of kids and families and we’ll continue to hold them accountable.”