Support the EPA’s clean air rulemaking

What's At Stake

Your public comments continue to make a difference. A year after it asked for input on its proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM2.5 today. The updated standards are a significant step in our ongoing efforts to fulfill the promise of the Clean Air Act. PM2.5 (also known as fine particulate matter or soot) causes 50,000 excess deaths in the United States every year. Thank the EPA for listening to the public and strengthening its standards for PM2.5, and call on your members of Congress to support the new standards. 

These stronger standards were not inevitable — it took several years of grassroots pressure and persistent litigation to get it right. When Trump’s EPA administrator issued a do-nothing rule that didn’t strengthen the safeguards for fine particulate matter, Earthjustice and partners sued to ensure that the EPA didn’t squander the opportunity.  The Biden EPA proposed a range of options to strengthen the soot standards and you jumped into action 32,000 Earthjustice supporters filed public comments calling for stronger standards, and that’s what we got. 

PM2.5 lodges itself deep in our lungs and can move into our bloodstream, where it can cause asthma, cancer, heart attacks, reproductive and developmental harm, and even premature death. A powerful body of science shows that the current NAAQS allow levels of particulate matter that cause these harms. Our successful advocacy will tangibly improve the lives of people across the country: 

  • 4,500 lives saved annually; 
  • 800,000 cases of asthma symptoms avoided; 
  • 2000 emergency room visits avoided; 
  • 290,000 lost work days avoided;  
  • $78 in benefits for every dollar of costs. 

There’s much more work to be done to ensure everyone has clean air to breathe, but today represents a meaningful step towards that goal. Join us in thanking the EPA for listening to the public and calling on your member of Congress to support the new standards. 

Smog covers the city of Los Angeles, CA.
Smog covers the city of Los Angeles, CA. (Metropolitan Transportation Library Archive)

Delivery to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Congress

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Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention. Read more.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue.

Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court. Read more.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment. Read more.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.