Oregon Department of Justice

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

Oregon Department of Justice - Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum
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May 30, 2008

EPA Adopted Watered Down Standards that Violate the Clean Air Act

Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that the State of Oregon has filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to protect the public and the environment. The EPA recently adopted new ground-level ozone air pollution standards that Myers contends are in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. Joining Oregon in the lawsuit is a coalition of 13 other states, the District of Columbia and New York City.

"Once again, the states must take our health and environment into our own hands because of the Bush Administration's failure to do so," stated Myers. "Despite the EPA's legal obligation to ensure our air is clean, they continue to blatantly ignore their responsibilities and states face no other option but to file suit to force the agency to do its job as mandated by Congress."

In March, the EPA acted against specific recommendations of its own independent science advisors and adopted two new, substantially weaker standards for regulating ground-level ozone pollution, commonly referred to as "smog". White House officials took an active role in making one of the standards far weaker than the scientifically recommended levels.

The federal Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regularly review and update two types of standards, known as "primary standards" and "secondary standards," for the pollutants it regulates in the air. The primary smog standard defines the upper limit of smog concentrations that can be in the atmosphere before causing public health harms, such as chronic lung disease, asthma attacks, and, in some cases, premature death. The secondary smog standard defines the upper limit of smog concentrations allowed in the atmosphere before damaging public welfare by reducing crop productivity and harming plants and animals.

Other suits against the EPA in which the State of Oregon has participated involve inadequate regulations by the agency of greenhouse gases and auto emissions.

The states' lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Participating states, in addition to Oregon, include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Rhode Island. New York City and the District of Columbia also joined in the suit. The coalition will ask the court to order the EPA to adopt standards that will actually protect the public and environment.


Stephanie Soden, (503) 378-6002
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