Earthjustice: EPA Withdraws Illegal Delay of Clean Air Safeguards

Litigation filed by public health and environmental groups and 16 states prompts EPA to back down on delaying implementing 2015 ozone standards


Seth Johnson, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 5245

The following statement is by Earthjustice attorney Seth Johnson, who represented public health and environmental groups in their fight to implement the 2015 ozone standards:

“The EPA’s hasty retreat shows that public health and environmental organizations and 16 states across the country were right: the agency had no legal basis for delaying implementation of the 2015 smog standard. Implementing the safer 2015 smog standard will mean cleaner air and healthier people, particularly for those most vulnerable to ozone, like children, people with asthma and the elderly. The EPA was wrong to put its polluter friends’ profits before people’s health. Health groups and environmental organizations, as well as states, will continue to watch as the EPA moves ahead with implementing the standard to ensure that the EPA uses the most accurate information about smog pollution and follows the Clean Air Act. We’ve been to court once to hold the EPA to account, and we won’t hesitate to go back.”

The EPA estimates that, when communities meet the standard, it will save hundreds of lives, prevent 230,000 asthma attacks in children, and prevent 160,000 missed school days for kids each year. In June, the EPA announced it was delaying identifying the areas that must clean up their air because they violate the 2015 smog standard. This would mean polluters would escape the effective pollution controls the Clean Air Act requires. 

Public health and environmental organizations sued the EPA on July 12, and asked the D.C. Circuit Court to immediately strike down or block the delay. The EPA’s withdrawal of the delay came the evening before its response to the lawsuit was due.

Earthjustice is representing American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, American Thoracic Society, Appalachian Mountain Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club, and West Harlem Environmental Action in the legal challenge to EPA’s delay action. Partners on the lawsuit are Clean Air Task Force (representing Clean Air Council and the Ohio Environmental Council), Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Environmental Defense Fund.

The 16 states that filed suit over the delay action are New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Read the withdrawal notice.

A child receives treatment for asthma.
A child receives treatment for asthma. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

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