Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 4, 2023


Robert Ukeiley, (720) 496-8568,

Petition Urges EPA to Set Outdoor Air Pollution Standards, Better Protect Communities

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups representing millions of people petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency today to improve standards to protect communities from outdoor air pollution.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Sierra Club want the EPA to set community-based standards to protect people from two air pollutants — nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide — that are known to contribute to asthma, diabetes, premature births, cancer and premature death. Burning fossil fuels and methane gas fracking generate nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide pollution, contributing to dangerous levels of smog and soot.

“The rapid expansion of the fracking and petrochemical industries has come at the tragic cost of millions of asthma attacks and widespread damage to our national parks,” said Robert Ukeiley, an environmental health attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re asking the EPA to take the simple step of creating community-based standards for two pollutants linked to these industries. The EPA and the scientific community long ago established that these toxic gases are dangerous to our health and the natural environment, so this should be a no-brainer.”

The EPA recognized the dangers of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in 2010 when it set nationwide standards for their emissions to protect public health. Thirteen years later the EPA has still not taken the next step of creating standards that would protect communities from local sources of that pollution, such as petrochemical plants and refineries, as required under the Clean Air Act.

A 2021 survey of Western voters found that 91% support requiring oil and methane gas companies to use updated equipment and technology to reduce these dangerous air pollutants.

The petrochemical industry, concentrated in a part of the Gulf Coast known as “Cancer Alley” and in the Appalachian region, contribute large sources of these pollutants. However, more methane gas-burning power plants are proposed to be built in numerous communities across the country.

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.

PEER is a national nonprofit organization that supports current and former public employees who seek a higher standard of environmental ethics and scientific integrity within their agencies. We do this by defending whistleblowers, shining the light on improper or illegal government actions, working to improve laws and regulations, and supporting the work of other organizations.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and legal action.

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