Environment Orgs Sue EPA for Violations of the Clean Air Act

On Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan, alleging that the agency failed to complete mandatory duties under the Clean Air Act. 

The complaint states that, under the Clean Air Act, when an area does not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for a particular pollutant, the area is designated as in nonattainment and classified as either Marginal, Moderate, Serious, Severe or Extreme. Further, when an area has been designated as in nonattainment, it is subject to mandatory measures called State Implementation Plans that are submitted to the EPA for mandatory review. The complaint purports that if the EPA submits a finding that a State Implementation Plan is incomplete, the EPA must step in and implement a federal implementation plan to reduce the pollutant levels. 

The plaintiffs allege Regan failed to make findings that the State Implementation Plans of seven areas designated as in “Serious nonattainment” and one area designated as in “Severe nonattainment” did not meet the required elements of the State Implementation Plan. 

The plaintiffs state these areas were designated as in nonattainment due to high levels of ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog. The complaint states smog negatively alters ecosystems and causes harm to plants and animals and damage to humans through decreased lung function.

The plaintiffs argue the EPA’s failure to submit accurate findings of these State Implementation Plans causes direct harm to the plaintiffs’ 14,000 members and the public that lives in these areas due to the smog pollution that damages their health and welfare. Further, the plaintiffs argue the EPA’s failure to timely perform its mandatory duties deprives the plaintiffs’ members of the procedural protection, opportunities and information they are entitled to under the Clean Air Act.

The plaintiffs seek declaratory relief that the defendant is in violation of the Clean Air Act, injunctive relief requiring the defendant to perform its mandatory duties, attorneys fees and costs for the defendant’s failure to perform non-discretionary duties under the Clean Air Act. The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Biological Diversity in-house counsel.