Yes, we did it. For the past month several reporters have been asking us about our litigation plans following the EPA’s scrapping of a stronger ozone standard Sept. 2 as directed by the White House.
Today we represent the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Appalachian Mountain Club in a petition filed against EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the U.S. EPA.
If you have been following our work, you know that Earthjustice has championed stronger ozone standards for more than a decade. And if you are confused, this will clear things up: what we filed today is a brand new challenge. Our 2008 suit involving the Bush ozone standards was put on hold after the EPA pledged to revisit those standards. Of course, the agency never released the stronger standards, so now that 2008 suit is on track to resume. Whether this new suit and the old suit will converge, we don’t know.
We know this though — the new challenge needed to be done.
Our current standard of limiting ozone to 75 parts per billion leaves thousands of lives at risk. Strengthening the standards to 60 ppb (as the EPA’s own science and medical advisors suggested) would have saved up to 12,000 lives every year, prevented 58,000 asthma attacks and avoided 21,000 hospital and emergency room visits, according EPA estimates.
So why did the EPA (with a heavy hand from the White House) back down? Politics and money. In this AP story, Dina Cappiello writes:
But President Barack Obama, facing a re-election race in 2012 and under pressure from business groups and Republicans, rejected the final proposal. He said setting a new standard would create “needless uncertainty” at a time when the economy was struggling.
What a shame. We are calling on the EPA to follow the law, to adhere to the Clean Air Act. Specifically we are calling on the court to overturn the administration’s decision to reject the stronger ozone proposal and order the administration to comply with the law and protect people’s lungs.
As Janice Nolen, of the American Lung Association said during a telephone press conference with reporters today:
The American Lung Association is pleased to be a part of this action today. We wish we didn’t have to be. We wish EPA had made a different decision.