Press Releases

Lawsuit Launched Against Trump’s EPA for Failing to Enforce Smog Rules in California

For Immediate Release, November 21, 2019

Contact: Robert Ukeiley, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 496-8568,
Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 655-3900 x 308,


OAKLAND, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health filed a formal notice today of their intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to ensure that parts of California have effective plans to reduce dangerous smog pollution.

Areas affected by the Trump EPA’s enforcement failures in California include Kern County, which is home to some of the worst air quality in the nation, as well as Mendocino County and the northern Sierras.

The legal action comes in the wake of what Californian officials say are grossly inaccurate assertions in recent months by the Trump administration claiming California is failing to properly implement the Clean Air Act and other environmental statutes. In fact, it is Trump’s EPA that has failed to enforce laws requiring adequate local plans for reducing smog.

“If Trump’s EPA cared at all about the health of Californians, it would be doing its job to make sure legally required smog reduction plans are in place,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Sadly, this administration is much more concerned about politically smearing California than lifting a finger to help protect the health of its residents.”

People exposed to excess ground-level ozone, the main pollutant in smog, can experience reduced lung function, increased respiratory problems like asthma attacks, increased visits to emergency rooms, and even premature death.

Ozone pollution in the regions of California affected by the agency’s enforcement failures also threatens Carrizo Plain National Monument, known for its annual wildflower bloom, and the Los Padres, Sequoia and Tahoe national forests. Worsening smog pollution also imperils endangered species like the California condor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 13 people (25 million Americans) suffer from asthma. In 2013 children missed 13.8 million school days because of asthma — the leading reason for children’s missed school days in the United States.

“Every additional day of delay puts more Americans at risk for pollution-related diseases and death,” said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “We’re going to hold the Trump administration’s feet to the fire until it prioritizes healthy, clean air for all.”

An EPA study found that between 1990 and 2010, Clean Air Act programs to reduce pollutants like ozone have prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone. For every dollar spent, Americans have received $30 in economic benefits in return.


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. 

The Center for Environmental Health works with parents, communities, businesses, workers, and government to protect children and families from toxic chemicals in homes, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods.