IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan & 15 State AGs Sue EPA for Failing to Designate Areas Impacted By Unhealthy Levels of Smog
Chicago —(ENEWSPF)—December 7, 2017
By: Rosemary Piser
A coalition of 15 Attorneys General including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan yesterday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to meet the Clean Air Act’s statutory deadline for designating areas of the country impacted by unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone, or smog.
In October the coalition pledged to sue the EPA if it failed to meet this key statutory and public health requirement. In August, a coalition of Attorneys General sued the EPA for illegally delaying the designations, and the following day, the EPA reversed course and withdrew the notice extending the deadline. However, the EPA has missed the statutory October 1 deadline for smog designation, prompting the coalition, four days later, to file a notice of intent to sue the EPA for failing to issue the required designations.
Attorney General Madigan said, “We cannot accept U.S. EPA’s failure to act when the public health risks of smog pollution are so well known, particularly for children and older adults. I will continue to urge the courts to require U.S. EPA to fulfill its duty under the Clean Air Act to protect residents from harmful pollution.”
According to the EPA, the 2015 updated smog standards will improve public health protection – particularly for at-risk groups such as children, older adults, people of all ages who have lung diseases like asthma, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers. In fact, the EPA estimated that meeting the new smog standards would result in net annual public health benefits of up to $4.5 billion starting in 2025 (not including California, where a number of areas have longer to meet standards), while also preventing approximately:
- 316 to 660 premature deaths;
- 230,000 asthma attacks in children;
- 160,000 missed school days;
- 28,000 missed work days;
- 630 asthma-related emergency room visits; and
- 340 cases of acute bronchitis in children.
Smog forms when nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide emitted from power plants, motor vehicles, factories, refineries, and other sources react under suitable conditions. Because these reactions occur in the atmosphere, smog can form far from where its precursor gases are emitted and, once formed, smog can travel far distances. That is why, despite enacting stringent in-state controls on sources of these pollutants, many states cannot, alone, meet federal health-based air quality standards for smog.
The Attorneys General filing this action are from Illinois, New York, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the lawsuit is available here.