For Immediate Release, January 22, 2020

Contact:

Robert Ukeiley, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 496-8568, rukeiley@biologicaldiversity.org
Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (541) 654-2626, Caroline@ceh.org

Lawsuit Challenges Trump EPA’s Delay in Cleaning up Harmful Smog From Oil, Fracked Gas in 11 States

OAKLAND, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health sued the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency today for delays in ensuring reductions in dangerous smog pollution from oil and gas drilling in 11 states.

The polluted areas are home to more than 80 million people — approximately one-quarter of the nation’s population. Affected regions are located in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The conservation groups are calling on the EPA to ensure that areas violating air-quality standards for smog have legally required plans in place to clean up one of the biggest contributors to the pollution: the oil and fracked gas industry.

“Oil and fracked gas drilling is a major contributor to the smog that’s poisoning the air for millions of people across the U.S.,” said Robert Ukeiley, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump EPA is working overtime to protect the polluters responsible for the smog that’s triggering asthma attacks and other serious health problems that routinely send people to the hospital.”

People exposed to excess ground-level ozone — commonly known as smog — can experience reduced lung function, increased respiratory problems like asthma attacks, increased visits to emergency rooms and even premature death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 13 people (25 million Americans) suffers from asthma. In 2013 children missed 13.8 million school days because of asthma — the top reason for children’s missed school days in the United States.

“I wish our government adored children as much as it does the oil and gas industry,” said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “We must continue to fight the Trump administration to ensure children and families are able to breathe clean air.”

An EPA study in 2015 estimated that Clean Air Act programs that reduce ozone pollution would prevent more than 3,180 premature deaths and 390,000 asthma attacks in children. The agency also estimates that the net economic benefit of fully implementing the 2015 ozone emissions limit — the current standard — is up to $4.5 billion.

Beyond the human health concerns, ozone pollution also harms wildlife and plants. Ozone exposure can hurt forests by increasing the risk of disease and insect infestations. Sensitive tree species at risk from ozone exposure include black cherry, quaking aspen, ponderosa pine and cottonwood.

Ponderosa pine provides habitat for several species, including the threatened Mexican spotted owl and Pawnee montane skipper.

Mexican spotted owls
Mexican spotted owls by Robin Silver Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists 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.