Environmental Activist Groups Sue EPA to Combat Ozone Pollution in California and New Hampshire

On Tuesday, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health filed a complaint in the Northern District of California against Michael Regan as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to address the ozone air pollution in certain areas of California and New Hampshire.

Ozone leaks in the environment can not only harm vegetation and ecosystems, but can cause “worsening respiratory and cardiovascular health, increased likelihood of early death, increased asthma-related hospital admissions, increased likelihood of children developing asthma as adolescents, and lower birthweights and decreased lung function in newborns,” per the complaint.

Via the Clean Air Act, the EPA is empowered to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for critical pollutants in the air, the organizations argued. Primary NAAQS “provide an adequate margin of safety” and Secondary NAAQS “protect the public welfare.” Any geographical area can be designated as nonattainment (does not meet either NAAQS), attainment (meets one NAAQS or the other) or unclassifiable. 

The plaintiffs alleged that Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) to counteract the ozone pollution in the nonattainment areas of Los Angeles-San Bernardino Counties, Sacramento Metro and New Hampshire have not been promulgated, even though the EPA was supposed to fulfill its duty to do so in March 2019. Because of this, the plaintiffs claimed that the EPA is not fulfilling its mandatory duty to enact the FIPs to safeguard public health in these regions. The Centers for Biological Diversity and Environmental Health are hoping that this lawsuit will force the EPA to take action against ozone pollution and prevent the spread of climate change in these regions.

The plaintiffs are seeking an order that the EPA is in violation of the Clean Air Act, injunctive relief enjoining the EPA to perform its mandatory duties in a reasonable amount of time, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.