Press Releases

Lawsuit Launched Over Trump EPA’s Delay in Cleaning Up Smog From Oil, Fracked Gas in 15 States

For Immediate Release, October 23, 2019

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

Polluted Areas in States Like Pennsylvania, California, New York Are Home to 88 Million People

OAKLAND, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health filed a formal notice today of their intent to sue the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency for delays in reducing dangerous smog pollution from oil and gas drilling in 15 states.

The polluted areas are home to more than 88 million people — approximately one-quarter of the nation’s population. The affected regions are located in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The conservation groups are calling on the EPA to ensure that areas violating air-quality standards for smog have plans in place to clean up one of the biggest contributors: the oil and fracked gas industry. Meanwhile President Donald Trump was schedule to be keynote speaker today at an oil and gas conference in Pittsburgh.

“Instead of hobnobbing with oil-company CEOs, Trump should be making sure the EPA is protecting people and wildlife from the dangerous air pollution this industry is spewing,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s absolutely shameful that he’s done nothing to help the millions of people inhaling these pollutants.”

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

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 13 people (25 million Americans) suffers from asthma. In 2013 children missed 13.8 million school days because of asthma — the top reason for children’s missed school days in the United States.

“Every additional day of delay puts more Americans at risk for potentially deadly diseases,” said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “We are going to fight the Trump administration to protect the right of all American children and families to clean air.”

An EPA study in 2015 estimated that Clean Air Act programs that reduce ozone pollution would prevent more than 3,180 premature deaths and 390,000 asthma attacks in children. The agency also estimates that the net economic benefit of fully implementing the 2015 ozone emissions limit — the current standard — is up to $4.5 billion.

Beyond the human-health concerns, public-interest groups are also concerned about ozone pollution’s cumulative harm to wildlife and plants. Ozone exposure can stunt the growth of trees and damage their leaves, and also increases susceptibility to disease, harms from insects and harsh weather. Sensitive tree species at risk from ozone exposure include black cherry, quaking aspen, ponderosa pine and cottonwood.

Ponderosa pine is habitat is critical to several species, including the threatened Mexican spotted owl and endangered California condor.

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.