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Attorney General Becerra: This Federal Legislation Is A Giant Step Backward For Clean Air And Public Health

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Attorney General Opposes Rollback of Critical Air Quality Standards That Help Save Lives, Prevent Asthma Attacks, And Reduce Hospital Visits

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a coalition of 16 Attorneys General in urging Congress to protect critical ozone air quality standards. In letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the coalition detailed its opposition to the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017 (S. 263 / H.R. 806) which would delay the ozone rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. That rule is expected to result in vital public health benefits.

In California alone, annually this rule would:

  • Save up to 218 lives;
  • Prevent many hundreds of hospital visits for asthma and other respiratory problems;
  • Enable children to attend 120,000 days of school they would otherwise be forced to miss;
  • Lead to net health benefits of up to $1.3 billion, a result of avoided health care costs, lost work days, and school absences.

In addition to depriving the public of these life-saving protections for at least five years, the legislation would also weaken future standards for many other pollutants—including particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and lead. The legislation delays required updates to existing standards, eliminates EPA’s duty to set standards premised solely on the protection of public health and welfare, and expands loopholes for areas with dirty air.

“Clean air shouldn’t be a luxury, and we shouldn’t make people wait even longer to get it,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Can you imagine the pain a parent feels when his or her child can’t breathe? This legislation is a giant step backward for clean air and public health.”

Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting California’s environment and natural resources. Since taking office, he has forcefully responded to President Trump’s executive order that threatens the Clean Power Plan; challenged the U.S. Department of Energy’s unlawful delay in enforcing several important energy efficiency standards; and intervened in a lawsuit defending energy-saving light bulb regulations.

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

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