Partial victory leaves millions breathing dirty air
Overwhelming evidence shows that the current ozone standard does not protect children, the elderly and sensitive populations. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)
The fight to protect communities from the increasingly disturbing effects of ozone pollution rages on. Just last week a federal appeals court gave us a partial victory when it ruled Bush’s 2008 ozone secondary, public welfare standard did not demonstrate how it would protect forests, crops and vegetation from ozone pollution. Unfortunately they also chose to defer to the EPA on the health standard, leaving millions breathing dirty air.
Mississippi and polluting industries had joined forces to claim the 2008 standard was too strict, while Earthjustice, public health groups and numerous states argued the standard was too weak. The court responded that:
[U]nlike Goldilocks, the court cannot demand that the EPA get things just right.
Well, we can.
Overwhelming evidence from doctors and the EPA’s own scientific advisors point to the fact that the current ozone standard does not protect children, the elderly and sensitive populations, nor the health of our forests, fields and national parks. It is overdue for the Obama administration to get it "just right" and move forward an ozone rule that follows the science.
When the Obama administration came into office, it acknowledged the dangers posed by smog and proposed to strengthen the standard in January 2010. Lisa Jackson said the standard was scientifically and legally "indefensible." After public hearings and thousands of public comments, the EPA was poised to finalize new standards in September 2011, but under intense industry pressure President Obama overruled Administrator Jackson and directed EPA to pull back the standards. The president said the EPA would review and revise the standards by the Clean Air Act’s 5-year mandatory review deadline of March 2013. That date has come and gone.
So the fight continues. Earthjustice will continue to work with communities around the country to make sure the EPA follows the law and complies with deadlines mandated by the Clean Air Act. We must hold their feet to the fire on commitments the president has made to clean air. Our lungs deserve better than delay and excuses.