Press Releases

Lawsuit Pushes Trump EPA to Address Asthma-causing Air Pollution in Phoenix, Northern California

For Immediate Release, May 22, 2019

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

OAKLAND, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to address smog and soot pollution affecting more than 1.5 million people in Arizona and Northern California.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, challenges the EPA’s failure to develop air-quality plans to curb soot from fine particulate matter pollution in Yolo and Solano counties, west of Sacramento, and to act on California’s plan to reduce soot in Plumas County, north of Lake Tahoe.

The suit also challenges the agency’s failure to act on Arizona’s plans that address smog from ozone pollution in the Phoenix metro area.

“The Trump EPA’s lack of action recklessly endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arizona and California residents with serious breathing and heart problems,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s shameful that this pollution-friendly administration believes it’s acceptable for millions of people to breathe dirty air.”

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to develop plans to reduce particulate matter and ozone pollution when states fail to submit plans to address national air-quality standards.

Pollution from ozone (smog) and particulate matter (soot) have profound effects on human health. Exposure to smog and soot can lead to decreased birth weight and premature death, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, reduced lung function and vision impairment.

According to the American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of the Air” report, more than 140 million people across the country live in counties with threatening levels of smog and soot pollution. This number has increased under the Trump administration: a 5.38 percent increase from 2018 and 12.88 percent increase from 2017.

“Trump’s EPA cannot continue to avoid its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act,” said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “We’re going to fight to ensure clean air for all children and families across the country.”

An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle matter and ozone pollution 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 1.4 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.