For Immediate Release, October 27, 2021

Contact:

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

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

PHILADELPHIA— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice today of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for approving Pennsylvania’s inadequate 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Pennsylvania’s plan to control the smog caused by fracking is based on outdated technology and guidance from 1983. In recent decades vastly improved methods have been developed for capturing and limiting the dangerous fossil fuel emissions that play a large role in smog pollution. But the EPA has failed to consistently require that smog-reduction plans incorporate those technologies, so fossil fuel industries have failed to make use of them.

“It has been 13 years since the EPA set the standard for unsafe levels of smog, but there’s still no plan to control emissions spewing from Pennsylvania’s filthy fracking industry,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center. “The EPA needs to ensure it’s requiring the best, most modern technology to control pollution from fossil fuels so that the cost of dirty energy pollution is internalized and the economic playing field for renewable energy is leveled.”

Ozone pollution, known as smog, leads to human health problems like asthma attacks and premature death and also damages ecosystems. The state’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 from volatile organic compounds that 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. Alarmingly, these effects 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.

Smog exposure can also worsen the effects of Covid-19. The World Health Organization has determined that individuals with asthma are one of the highest risk groups for the disease. This contributes to a growing canon of evidence that people who live in areas with polluted air have an increased likelihood of experiencing more severe cases of Covid.

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.

The Center for Biological Diversity is represented in this case by Alexa Carreno and Jeremy Mckay of Environmental and Animal Defense.

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.

 

www.biologicaldiversity.org