Attorney General Becerra Challenges EPA’s Illegal Delay of Important National Air Quality Standards

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Standards Would Save Lives, Eliminate Asthma Emergency Department Visits, and Prevent Lost School Days

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a challenge today to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) illegal delay of important national air quality control standards. In 2015, the EPA reduced the allowable concentration of ozone in the air from 75 to 70 parts per billion (ppb). However, on June 28, President Trump’s EPA announced that it would delay the implementation of the ozone reduction for one year. Ozone is the primary component of urban smog and causes various health problems, particularly in children, outdoor workers, and asthma sufferers. In California alone, this reduction would save more than 100 lives, eliminate 380 asthma emergency department visits, and prevent 120,000 lost school days each year, according to the EPA’s 2015 Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Final Revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ground-Level Ozone.

“Too many children in our state have developed asthma and other preventable respiratory conditions that result from air pollution,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I grew up in Sacramento knowing that I could drink clean water and breathe clean air. But in those days in Los Angeles, how many people my age can say the same thing? How many days began with smog alerts? How many kids grew up with asthma that could have been prevented? That’s why I’m taking action against the Trump administration today.”

The Clean Air Act defines ozone as a pollutant for which EPA must set uniform national standards. These standards are periodically revised to make sure they adequately protect public health. An area that does not meet the standards is designated as “non-attainment” and must take active measures to reduce emissions of the pollutant.

Attorney General Becerra, along with the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, filed a petition for review of the EPA’s unlawful delay. This action is related to a recent multistate amicus brief and request to intervene in Murray Energy Corporation v. EPA to defend the new ozone standards against a challenge brought by coal-mining giant Murray Energy.

When he assumed office, Attorney General Becerra made protecting the environment a top priority. Among other actions, he has expressed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s “review” of national marine sanctuaries and to any attempt by the Trump Administration to revoke or weaken existing protections for national monuments; has taken action against the EPA due to its failure to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and natural gas operations, as is required under federal law; and has challenged the Department of Energy over its failure to publish in the Federal Register finalized energy efficiency standards for five products: portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers and commercial packaged boilers. 

A copy of the petition is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news 

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