Environmental Group Files Suit Against EPA Regarding Inaction on Clean Air Act Regulation

The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) filed suit on Tuesday in the Northern District of California against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the agency’s overall and regional administrators. The complain alleges a violation of the Clean Air Act and seeks to compel the agency to either approve, partially approve or disapprove of the Innovative Clean Transit Regulation (ICT) regulation.

A public health crisis is ongoing due to the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone air pollution that occurs within the South Coast Air Basin, the complaint explained. The plaintiff organizations cite research from the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2022 report which revealed that “counties in the South Coast Air Basin rank among the worst in the United States for ozone and PM2.5.”

The Clean Air Act cited in the complaint is intended to provide a way for the EPA and states to develop strategies to achieve national ambient air quality standards. States must submit their plans to meet the standards to the EPA for approval, which they must give within 6p days. The EPA is then responsible for approving plans if they determine that they meet the minimum requirements of the Clean Air Act and will hold states and regulated entities accountable.

The California Air Resources Board adopted the ICT regulation as a part of their strategy to combat pollution, the complaint said. Following the adoption of the regulation, the board sought approval that the strategy could be part of California’s State Implementation Plan from the EPA. Approval from the EPA would ensure that “the regulation is enforceable by citizens and the EPA.” However, the plaintiff explains that as of the filing of their complaint, the EPA has not yet taken action on the ICT regulation despite the action being due by August 13, 2021.

Without any action from the EPA, the plaintiff asserts that people within the South Coast Air Basin will continue to be subject to air conditions that can cause effects including irritated lung tissue, decreased lung function, exacerbated respiratory disease, damaging of the airways, and more.

The complaint cites a failure to perform a non-discretionary duty to act on the innovative clean transit regulation. The plaintiff is seeking a declaration that the defendant violated the Clean Air Act, preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring action to be taken regarding the ICT regulation, litigation costs, and any other relief deemed proper by the Court.

The plaintiff is represented by the Law Offices of Brent J. Newell.