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Earthjustice goes to court for our planet.
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We’re on Our Way to Court to Defend a New Standard That Protects Us from Deadly Air Pollution

What happened: In a major win for public health, the EPA finalized new, tighter standards on PM2.5 air pollution, also known as soot. But that life-saving action is now being challenged by industrial associations, including the American Petroleum Institute, and 25 states. Earthjustice is intervening on behalf of community organizations to defend the EPA’s new stronger air standards in court.

Why it matters: Particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) is a type of air pollution that can penetrate deep into our lungs and hearts, contributing to countless chronic illnesses. In early 2023, the EPA proposed new PM2.5 standards, which health and environmental advocates argued were not strong enough. After hearing from the public, including 32,000 Earthjustice supporters, the EPA delivered stronger air quality protections in February 2024. This type of pollution kills nearly 50,000 people in the United States every year, and the EPA’s new standards are expected to reduce air pollution and save thousands of lives.

What is PM2.5, and why is it so dangerous?  

  • What it is: PM2.5, also known as soot, is small particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or less – a size small enough to penetrate deep into your lungs and heart. It inflames the airways, gets into the bloodstream, and impairs the body’s immune responses.
  • Exposure is linked to adverse health complications: This type of pollution causes asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits for cardiopulmonary diseases. It is also linked to cancer.
  • Disproportionate impacts: We know soot pollution disproportionately affects people of color — particularly Black and brown people — due to where they live and work.

Strong standards matter. 

  • Multiple sources: Particulate matter pollution comes from fossil fuel combustion for electricity generation, manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture.
  • Standards save lives: This strengthening of the PM2.5 national standards will force these polluting sources to reduce their harmful emissions, resulting in saved lives, better public health, and clearer skies.
  • Where we come in: If a region’s current air quality is worse than a new, tightened standard, the state government must implement plans to curb air pollution so that the air quality will meet the updated standard. Earthjustice watches to make sure that the government puts forward real plans and follow through on them. If they do not, we take them to court.

We’re fighting back against polluters challenging the improved, life-saving standards

  • Polluters rushed to court: Right away, major trade associations, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute, and 25 states led by Kentucky, West Virginal, and Texas challenged the improved air quality standards.
  • Industry has no right to poison our families and our neighborhoods. Earthjustice is representing health, environmental, and community organizations stepping up to defend public health and justice in court.
  • Science on our side: With robust scientific backing, we’re ready to show how the Clean Air Act saves lives and protects communities.
  • More work to do: Join us in advocating for the swift implementation of the strengthened standards.
Out of focus people in the foreground with the Los Angeles skyline behind them, in focus, on a sunny day with clouds in the sky.
People enjoy a sunny afternoon in a Los Angeles park with a view of the downtown skyline. (Chris Delmas / AFP via Getty Images)