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Court Demands More Smog Protection from EPA

Smog covers the city of Los Angeles, CA.

Smog covers the city of Los Angeles, CA.

Metropolitan Transportation Library Archive Photo

For the second time this week, Earthjustice attorneys are celebrating a major clean air victory—this latest one dealing with our nation’s smog crisis. Like the earlier victory, on emissions from coal-fired plants, the result should be thousands of lives saved and a general increase in community health.

A federal district court judge ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must finally make long-overdue revisions to national standards governing ozone pollution—the smog that plagues cities and regions from coast to coast. After years of foot-dragging, the court said, the EPA has until December to propose updates.

The ruling coincides with the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report showing a significant increase of this pollutant, which causes premature death, asthma attacks and other breathing problems. More than half of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air, the report noted.

The EPA admits that more-protective ozone standards could save 12,000 lives a year, yet it has put off updating them for years. The agency last revised its ozone standards in 2008, but even then its administrator acknowledged they were weak and scientifically unsupportable. Several attempts to update them since then have failed.

This is the latest in a series of court actions by Earthjustice over more than a decade that seek stronger protections against ozone pollution. For more information, check out our smog work.