Greens file lawsuit over new smog limits

Greens file lawsuit over new smog limits
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A coalition of green groups has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new smog rules. 

The legal challenge, filed by the Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Appalachian Mountain Club and the National Parks Conservation Association, argues that the EPA’s surface-level ozone standard of 70 parts per billion is too weak to protect public health. 

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“This standard leaves kids, seniors and asthmatics without the protection doctors say they need from this dangerous pollutant,” said David Baron, an attorney at Earthjustice, which is representing the groups. 

“The EPA has a duty to set standards that assure our air is safe to breathe. We say they violated that duty here.”   

When the EPA was finalizing the ozone rule this year, greens and public health organizations pushed the agency to tighten the then-standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to as low as 60 parts per billion, saying that lower ozone levels would lead to fewer respiratory problems for people in industrial areas exposed to smog.

“The EPA’s failure to adopt stronger ozone standards leaves people without the full protection that is needed,” said Catherine Thomasson, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“The health benefits of a 60 ppb standard would be far greater than 70 ppb, because — as the latest science shows us — ozone is clearly harmful to health at levels down to 60 ppb.”

While the organizations have typically stepped in to defend the EPA’s rules from those who claim the agency shouldn’t have tightened the standard at all, they have also kept the door open to filing suits of their own against the rule.

The deadline for suing over the rule is Monday. The green groups’ filing comes the same day the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers sued the EPA over the rule, but on the grounds that it will be expensive and hard to implement. 

Both sides sued over the EPA’s decision to tighten the ozone requirements in 2008, but their lawsuits failed.