Legal accord forces EPA action to further smog reductions in CA, TX communities, counties

The Environmental Protection Agency agreed today [Feb. 21, 2023] to meet deadlines for reducing smog in parts of California and Texas that have some of the nation’s worst air pollution.

Today’s agreement followed a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health challenging the EPA’s failure to ensure that San Diego County and eastern Kern County, in California, and Texas’s Dallas-Fort Worth area have plans to address “serious” nonattainment of smog standards.

“We’re pleased that people suffering from some of the nation’s worst air pollution will finally get some relief,” said Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This agreement starts the process of ensuring that states and the EPA will do the work required by the Clean Air Act to clean up this dangerous pollutant.”

Ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog, is linked to human health problems like asthma attacks and can cause premature death. Those most at risk include older adults, children, and people who work outdoors. Ozone pollution also contributes to the climate crisis by harming plants and limiting their ability to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

“This agreement gets the EPA back on track in addressing the dangers of smog pollution in communities and regions that desperately need cleaner air,” said Kaya Allan Sugerman, illegal toxic threats program director with the Center for Environmental Health. “We shouldn’t have to sue the EPA to ensure that no one has to breathe air that fails to meet even the most basic health standards set by law. But we are committed to making sure the agency does its job to clean up dangerous air pollution.”

* “Legal Agreement Forces EPA Action to Reduce Dangerous Smog Levels in Parts of California, Texas,” Center for Biological Diversity, Feb. 21, 2023 press release.