Delayed ozone standards will harm our communities

What's At Stake

Ozone is among the most widespread of air pollutants. It contributes to what we often see in the air as smog. Ozone pollution is a byproduct of fossil fuel emissions from vehicles, factories, and other sources, causing severe health harms. It is linked to asthma attacks, bronchitis, heart disease—and thousands of deaths each year. We need to let the Environmental Protection Agency know that any delay in improving our air quality standards is inexcusable and will mean more asthma attacks, more missed school, more missed work, more hospital and ER visits, and more deaths.   

The federal government is required by the Clean Air Act to protect public health by setting standards that limit the amount of ozone pollution people and the environment are exposed to, but the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to take urgent action to improve outdated air quality standards and instead wants to restart the rulemaking process, which will delay these important protections. 

Ground-level ozone poses serious health risks, particularly to vulnerable populations, and failing to address this issue hampers progress toward cleaner air nationwide, for everyone. Ozone pollution also damages the environment. It slows plant growth, including for certain tree species and agricultural crops. Through its effects on vegetation, it can alter and harm entire ecosystems. It is also itself a powerful greenhouse gas. 

The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council recently explained that stronger ozone standards would help reduce burdens that disproportionately affect environmental justice communities. The EPA’s independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) said the science demanded that the EPA strengthen the ozone standards now to protect people’s health and the environment.  But now, the EPA claims that because of the strong recommendation from CASAC, they must reassess the science and restart the process. However, CASAC has pointed out that there is already ample evidence that compels EPA to strengthen the standards. The EPA’s move is just further delay on the EPA’s part.   

There was no need for the EPA to start over. The science backing stronger ozone standards is well established. We must demand that the EPA ensure that the ozone review moves quickly, without further unnecessary delay, so that communities finally have the ozone standards the science — and justice — demand.   

Matthew Elliot of the California Nurses Association rallied outside the EPA's hearing in Sacramento, CA, on February 2, 2015.
Matthew Elliot of the California Nurses Association rallied outside the EPA's hearing in Sacramento, CA, on February 2, 2015. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

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