Areas Include California, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia
Two conservation groups filed a formal notice today of their intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to ensure that adequate plans are in place to control air pollution from the oil and methane gas industry in six states.
Six areas of California and the New York City metropolitan area have failed to meet basic air-quality standards for ozone. The state of New York and four other eastern states have also not met requirements for what Congress has designated as the “ozone transport region,” across which states must work together to effectively reduce ozone and its precursors.
Together these areas are home to more than 48.7 million people, or approximately 15% of the U.S. population.
“There’s clearly bipartisan support to reduce air pollution from the oil and methane gas industry, but what’s been missing is the political will to get it done,” said Robert Ukeiley, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re calling on the Biden administration to take the common-sense steps that will protect people and wildlife alike from dangerous pollution from the fossil fuel industry. Ultimately, the key to safeguarding the air we breathe is to move quickly away from drilling and fracking.”
The EPA has already determined that these areas have ozone pollution at levels 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, according to the EPA.
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 known as smog. A 2021 survey of western voters spanning the political spectrum found that 91 percent support requiring oil and methane gas companies to use updated equipment and technology to prevent leaks of methane gas and other pollution into the air.
The EPA has failed to ensure that adequate plans are in place to control pollution from the oil and methane gas industry in the New York-northern New Jersey-Long Island area of New York; San Diego County and Ventura County in California; and, in the Sacramento metro area, Western Nevada County, El Dorado County, the Feather River area and the Yolo-Solano area.
The EPA has also failed to meet congressionally mandated deadlines for the following states in the ozone transport region: Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“As we transition away from fossil fuels, we need to ensure that all of our energy sources are as protective of public health as possible,” said Kaya Sugerman, director of the Center for Environmental Health’s illegal toxic threats program. “Polluting industries, not the public, should pay the price for the impacts of extraction.”
Congress established the ozone transport region in 1990, recognizing that in the Northeast, states are dependent upon each other to reduce ozone and its precursors. It includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and portions of Virginia.