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Protecting Air Quality In The San Joaquin Valley

An industrial facility in California's Central Valley.

An industrial facility in California's Central Valley.

Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

What's at Stake

Cities in California’s Central Valley dominate the American Lung Association’s top ten list of areas with the worst air pollution, yet meaningful action to improve air quality in the region is nonexistent. Earthjustice is challenging EPA’s cycle of inaction to ensure that the millions of people who live and work in the valley are protected.

Case Overview

For more than a decade, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has neglected to take any concerted action to address the air pollution crisis in California’s Central Valley. Meanwhile, more than half a dozen cities in the region annually take top spots among the nation’s dirtiest places to live.

On the streets of these communities, millions of people are exposed daily to intolerably dangerous levels of ozone and soot—released by the drilling operations, diesel trucks and factory farms that operate throughout the region. Illness is the result, particularly in children, the elderly and individuals with respiratory problems like asthma.

The crisis is avoidable, but it will require more from EPA and the Central Valley air district than what’s been done thus far: a series of weak state plans that collect dust on federal desks for years. Earthjustice is pursuing two lawsuits against the EPA that seek strong, timely and enforceable controls against ozone pollution in the Central Valley. We are meeting with the EPA to discuss new approaches that will break the agency out of the pattern of delay followed by approval of air quality plans that will not be sufficient to clean the air.

Case ID

2057, 2058, 2785

Clients

Medical Advocates for Healthy Air
Medical Alliance for Healthy Air

Related Features

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Tom Frantz has been documenting pollution sources in California's Central Valley. His words and pictures have led to improvements in air quality—improvements that the EPA can further increase by strengthening fine particle air pollution standards. Listen to Tom's story.

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Millions of Americans suffer from asthma; however, most people don't know how brutal it is to live with the disease. Breathing is a fundamental right, yet everyday air pollution is affecting millions of Americans' right to breathe.

Case Updates

October 15, 2014 | Legal Document

Court Document: PM2.5 Pollution Challenge

A coalition of public health and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA today, asking a federal court to require the agency to protect Southern California communities from hazardous levels of air pollution.

October 15, 2014 | Blog Post

There’s Something Bad in the Air

A coalition of public health and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, asking a federal court to require the agency to protect LA and San Joaquin Valley communities from hazardous levels of air pollution.

August 29, 2014 | Blog Post

Valley Air District Will Miss Soot Deadline

Well, it happened. As we predicted back in June, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District officially has no hope of attaining the 1997 soot standard by the Dec. 31, 2014 deadline.

July 2, 2014 | Blog Post

San Joaquin Valley Agency Blows Hot Air

An unfortunate incident shows both how much advocates have achieved—and how much more work we have to do in the San Joaquin Valley.

June 25, 2013 | In the News: KQED News

Can Air Pollution Cause Asthma in Kids? How About Autism?

Two new studies published this week by UCSF and Harvard’s School of Public Health stress just how harmful air pollution can be to society’s most vulnerable members – children, infants, and developing fetuses. Early exposure to nitrogen oxide, diesel particulates and other airborne metals, the studies show, can impair lung and immune system development and lead to long-lasting health problems such as asthma and autism.

December 20, 2012 | In the News: Los Angeles Times

New air pollution standards restrict soot particles

A new air pollution standard approved by the Obama administration is expected to save lives, increase life expectancy and reduce illness in communities affected by air pollution. The EPA estimates annual savings in healthcare and other costs to be around $4 billion to $9.1 billion. The new rules came about in response to Earthjustice litigation.