Environmental Groups Sue EPA Due to Missed Air Pollution Reviews

A suit was filed on Wednesday in the Northern District of California by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health against the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michael S. Regan. The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief asserts that Regan violated the Clean Air Act by failing to perform the duties associated with the law.

Each of the plaintiffs seek to ensure the safety of both the health of the public and the environment. The Clean Air Act establishes deadlines by which the EPA must complete reviews according to National Ambient Air Quality Standards. After the reviews, the EPA must develop corresponding and necessary revisions or devise new regulations if needed. Per the Clean Air Act, these reviews must be completed every 5 years.

The Clean Air Act which was passed by Congress intends to “speed up, expand, and intensify the war against air pollution in the United States with a view to assuring that the air we breathe throughout the Nation is wholesome once again.”

Of the substances that require review by the EPA, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and particulate matter are the most pertinent to the complaint. Per the Clean Air Act, these levels should have been reviewed by the EPA no later than 2012, 2017, and 2018, respectively, the plaintiffs argue. Each of these substances have effects such as impairing visibility, harming sensitive ecosystems, affecting the climate, aggravating existing heart and lung diseases, and contributing to public health problems.

By neglecting its mandatory duties, the plaintiffs assert that the defendant has failed to perform its duties in a way that is harmful to the environment and public health.

The complaint cites a failure on the part of the defendant to conduct EPA-mandated reviews with respect to nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and particulate matter. The plaintiffs are seeking declarations that Regan is in violation of the Clean Air Act, the issuance of a mandatory injunction requiring the duties to be fulfilled, litigation fees, and any other relief deemed proper by the Court.

The plaintiff are represented by counsel from the Center for Biological Diversity.