Austin, TX - Yesterday, Sierra Club and other public health and environmental groups sued EPA to ensure that the agency takes timely action to reduce ozone pollution across the country.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, on behalf of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Downwinders at Risk, HEAL Utah, and Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice.
Earlier this year in February and April, Sierra Club and our Texas partners Downwinders at Risk, Public Citizen, and Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, issued a notice of intent to sue EPA to ensure timely action on this important public health issue.
Under the Clean Air Act, the State of Texas was required to ensure that these areas (the 16 counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, and Bexar County nonattainment areas) met the health-based standard last year. Recently, EPA formally announced that these areas are out of compliance and failed to meet the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS); a standard designed to protect human health and the environment.
“Over half of all Texans live in a county that fails to meet the public health standard for ozone pollution,” said Chrissy Mann, Sierra Club’s Senior Campaign Representative for the Beyond Coal Campaign in Texas. “This lawsuit ensures that EPA takes the next step as required by the Clean Air Act to re-designate 16 Texas counties to a more stringent nonattainment designation, which should require proposed and existing sources of pollution to reduce ozone forming emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. It will be up to EPA to ensure the State of Texas and TCEQ specifically does right by these communities and puts a plan in place to finally clean up the air.”
Because these areas did not meet the deadline, the Clean Air Act mandates that EPA redesignate or “bump up” each area’s nonattainment status from “marginal” to “moderate” nonattainment, triggering more stringent pollution reductions. Yesterday’s lawsuit will ensure that EPA takes action as expeditiously as possible to comply with the Clean Air Act and protect the communities impacted by the unsafe air quality.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.