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Groups Sue EPA Over Clean-Air Delay

Reducing ozone will require new sources to use the best emissions-control technology. (Ozzy Delaney/Flickr)
Reducing ozone will require new sources to use the best emissions-control technology. (Ozzy Delaney/Flickr)
July 14, 2017

NEW YORK – A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Washington asks the federal courts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s delay in implementing revised smog standards.

The EPA itself estimates that when communities meet the 2015 standards it will prevent 230,000 asthma attacks and 160,000 missed school days for children, and save hundreds of lives each year.

According to Seth Johnson, an attorney with the environmental law group Earthjustice, states have submitted the required data on ozone levels to the EPA, but the agency now wants to delay putting the standard into effect for a year.

"Every state in the country did what they were supposed to do,” Johnson states. “Now, it's time for EPA to do what it's supposed to do, and that is to issue designations under the statute and start the implementation process."

The EPA says it needs more time to review the standard and designate areas that must clean up their air.

The groups now suing to stop the delay are concerned that the EPA intends to weaken the standard.

Johnson points out the standard was revised in 2015 in order to help bring communities into compliance with the Clean Air Act.

"EPA's independent science advisers unanimously said that the 2008 standard was too weak to satisfy the statutory requirements," he points out.

Ozone is a corrosive greenhouse gas, and children and the elderly are especially vulnerable. But Johnson adds that it can harm healthy adults too.

Once the standard is implemented, Johnson says, designated areas will be required to reduce ozone-forming pollution to bring their communities into compliance, beginning with new construction.

"If you want to build a new, big source of air pollution, you're going to have to use the most stringent emissions-reducing technology that's available," he stresses.

The groups joining the lawsuit include the American Lung Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY