Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 16, 2023

Contact:

Robert Ukeiley, (720) 496-8568, rukeiley@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Filed to Reduce Air Pollution From Oil, Methane Gas Industries in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the Environmental Protection Agency for delays in deciding whether to approve or reject Pennsylvania’s outdated plan to clean up smog from the methane gas industry. The methane gas is mainly extracted using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Pennsylvania’s plan to control the smog caused by fracking is based on technology and guidance from 1983. In recent decades vastly improved methods have been developed for capturing and limiting the emissions that lead to dangerous smog pollution. But the EPA has failed to consistently require that smog-reduction plans incorporate those technologies, so fossil fuel industries have failed to use them.

“Fifteen years after the EPA set stronger limits on smog pollution there’s still no plan to control the dangerous emissions spewing from Pennsylvania’s filthy fracking industry,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center. “The EPA needs to insist that polluters use the best modern technology to reduce the ongoing harm to families and wildlife.”

Ozone pollution, known as smog, leads to human health problems like asthma attacks and premature death and also damages ecosystems. Pennsylvania’s ozone pollution contributes to similar pollution in downwind states. Every year that ozone pollution continues to violate the national standards up to 390,000 more asthma attacks will occur in children, according to the EPA’s own data.

The oil and methane gas industry is the largest industrial source of emissions of volatile organic compounds that cause cancer and also contribute to the formation of smog.

Human exposure to smog can increase the frequency of asthma attacks, make the lungs more susceptible to infection, inflame and damage airways, make it more difficult to breathe, and aggravate various lung diseases like emphysema, asthma and bronchitis, according to the EPA. These harms from smog have been found in healthy individuals but are more serious in vulnerable populations and among people with underlying health conditions.

Exposure to smog pollution leads to increased visits to emergency rooms, missed school and work days, increased medication use and even deaths. The EPA found that places with elevated concentrations of ozone and long-term exposure to ozone are not only linked to the aggravation of asthma but can cause it to develop.

Ozone pollution also harms the natural environment: The EPA has found that the effects of ozone on plants can damage entire ecosystems, including through the loss of species diversity and decreased habitat quality.

For more information about the fight against air pollution, please visit Protecting Air Quality Under the Clean Air Act.

The Center for Biological Diversity is represented in this case by Alexa Carreno and Jeremy Mckay of Environmental and Animal Defense and Jennifer E. Clark Esq., Staff Attorney of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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