Attorney General Xavier Becerra Sues EPA Over Failure to Implement Life-Saving Clean Air Protections

Thursday, December 7, 2017
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to designate any areas of the country as having unhealthy levels of smog in excess of federal Clean Air Act requirements. These designations are critical because an area that is designated as not meeting the requirements must take active measures to improve its air quality. EPA was required to make these designations by October 1, but it failed to do so. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

“Smog causes various health problems, particularly in children, outdoor workers, and asthma sufferers. It is therefore imperative that the EPA implement these smog-reducing standards as mandated by the Clean Air Act,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The California Department of Justice refuses to let the EPA blatantly violate the Clean Air Act. We will continue doing everything in our power to ensure that the EPA does what it is supposed to do: protect our environment. Lives can be saved if the EPA implements these standards.” 

“Public health research shows that smog can make people sick, particularly those most vulnerable, including children,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “Despite reducing emissions from motor vehicles and other sources, improvements become more difficult as the climate warms. While CARB and the Air Districts do their part to protect public health, the federal government needs to do its part. The U.S. EPA has been illegally attempting to avoid its obligations on this critical matter for months, despite having everything it needs to keep making progress. Today’s action will help get us back on track.”

Promulgated by the Obama Administration in 2015, the smog standards are set at a level EPA determines is necessary to protect public health from the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog. When the standards were adopted, EPA projected that compliance with the standards would create billions of dollars worth of health benefits every year, even after subtracting costs.

Attorney General Becerra filed the lawsuit along with the attorneys general of: New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

When he assumed office, Attorney General Becerra made protecting the environment a top priority. Among other actions, he has announced a $9.5 million settlement with DIRECTV to resolve allegations that its California facilities unlawfully disposed of large volumes of hazardous waste; has called on the Trump Administration to enforce and keep in place a rule that prevents the dangerous waste of natural gas; and he has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for illegally delaying a rule that encourages automakers to produce vehicle fleets that meet or exceed federal fuel efficiency standards.

A copy of the complaint is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news

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