Tomorrow, Earthjustice will join other groups—including the American Lung Association, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council—in calling on EPA to finalize a new smog standard that’s strong enough to protect public health from this dangerous pollutant.
Earthjustice representatives, including attorney David Baron, will call on EPA at the public hearing to finalize a more stringent smog standard than what the agency proposed.
“Mountains of evidence now link ozone to serious health impacts, including bronchitis, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths,” Baron said. “Leading medical societies have called for a 60 parts per billion standard—the most protective option EPA science advisors recommended—so EPA should follow the science and do its job to protect public health.”
In November, the EPA proposed strengthening the 2008 smog standard from 75 ppb to a standard between 65 and 70 ppb.
The proposal followed litigation in 2013 when EPA failed to meet a legal deadline to complete a thorough review of the smog standard as required under the Clean Air Act. Earthjustice sued the EPA on behalf of the American Lung Association, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council. In April 2014, the U.S. District Court ordered the EPA to propose action on the ozone standards by Dec. 1, 2014, and take final action by Oct. 1, 2015.
In 2011, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recognized that the current smog standard of 75 ppb was insufficient to protect public health and proposed a 60–70 ppb standard. But the proposal was shelved by the Obama administration following pressure from business interests.
Asthma now affects 1 out of 10 children and is a greater problem in low-income communities and communities of color.
African American children are twice as likely to be hospitalized because of ozone pollution and four times more likely to die from it when compared to white children. Puerto Ricans have the highest asthma rates of any demographic group in the country. More than 1 in 7 Puerto Ricans have asthma.
Lisa Garcia, Earthjustice vice president of healthy communities, said EPA’s focus this time around must be on prioritizing public health despite the pressure from industry.
“Thousands of people are dying every year because of smog,” said Garcia. “As a nation we must do all we can to save lives and reduce respiratory illnesses, especially for the most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, people who work outdoors and people with asthma.”