Press Releases

Lawsuit Launched to Fight Trump EPA’s Delay in Reducing Air Pollution

For Immediate Release, January 15, 2021

Robert Ukeiley, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 496-8568,
Kaya Sugerman, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 740-9384,

Lawsuit Launched to Fight Trump EPA’s Delay in Reducing Air Pollution From Oil, Methane Gas Industries in California, Chicago

WASHINGTON— Two conservation groups filed a formal notice today of their intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to require adequate pollution controls for the oil and methane gas industry in Chicago and six areas of California — together home to more than 26 million people. Many of these areas already have some of the worst air quality in the country.

The EPA has already determined that these areas have ozone pollution that can trigger ecological harm and human health problems like asthma attacks and even death. Every year that ozone pollution continues to violate the national standards up to 390,000 more asthma attacks will occur in children.

“We can do a better job of protecting people and special places like national parks if the EPA acts to reduce oil and methane gas pollution,” said Robert Ukeiley, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re calling on the agency to review industry controls in California and Illinois and ensure that states use better technology to reduce these dangerous emissions while we transition away from dirty fossil fuels.

The oil and methane gas industry is the largest industrial source of emissions of the volatile organic compounds that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.

“Two Canadian provinces require that the oil and methane gas industry install zero emission pneumatic controllers,” said Kaya Sugerman with the Center for Environmental Health. “There is no reason the EPA cannot adopt this readily available technology.”

The EPA’s outdated guidelines for oil and methane gas production still recommend pneumatic controllers that continuously emit volatile organic compounds. Yet pneumatic controllers that do not emit any of the compounds are in widespread use at production sites and compressor stations in both the United States and Canada.

Taking action to increase the use of zero emission controllers has a co-benefit of reducing methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas that is 87 times more damaging for climate change than carbon dioxide. According to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, pneumatic controllers are the largest source of methane from the oil industry and the second-largest source of methane from the methane gas industry.

The EPA has failed to ensure that proper pollution-control technologies for the oil and methane gas industry are in place for the Chicago-Naperville area, as well as for the following locations in California: Los Angeles – South Coast Air Basin, Riverside County (Coachella Valley), Sacramento metro area, San Joaquin Valley, Ventura County, and Los Angeles – San Bernardino Counties (West Mojave Desert).

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 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.