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Obama Administration Undermines EPA Efforts on Smog Protections

Failure to release health protections puts thousands of lives and billions of dollars in cost savings at risk
September 2, 2011
Washington, D.C. —

Today, the Obama administration directed the EPA to drop strong protections against smog pollution, leaving in place weak Bush-era smog standards that will leave thousands of American lives at risk. The following is a statement from Martin Hayden, Earthjustice vice president of policy and legislation:

Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog. Ozone is linked to increased asthma attacks, lung damage and breathing problems. (EPA)

“The Obama administration knows the heavy cost of smog pollution but has made the terrible decision to leave outdated, weak standards in place, leaving thousands of Americans who suffer from lung and breathing problems at the mercy of this dirty air.

“The EPA’s own science advisers have recommended strengthening the standards but even their voices are muted by corporate polluters and their allies. The EPA estimates that cleaning up smog pollution would save up to 12,000 lives every year, prevent 58,000 asthma attacks and avoid 21,000 hospital and emergency room visits. These health benefits are valued as high as $100 billion annually.

“Sacrificing American lives and forcing our friends and family members who suffer from asthma to breathe dirty air is a poor legacy for President Obama. Keeping weak, inefficient standards in place is not the change we were promised. It’s a travesty that the Obama administration in this case has refused to place the health of America’s children and citizens above corporate greed.”

Earthjustice sued to challenge these standards on behalf of the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association and Appalachian Mountain Club. The case was put on hold when the Obama Administration said it would reconsider the standards.


Martin Hayden, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 218

Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 221

We're the lawyers for the environment, and the law is on our side.