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Environmental Justice Communities Sue EPA
by Posted by Mike Rhodes (editor [at] fresnoalliance.com)
Tuesday Jul 13th, 2010 2:29 PM
Failure to act on air pollution plan violates Clean Air Act
A San Joaquin Valley community group sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today to force the agency to undertake long overdue action on a plan aimed at curbing dangerous fine particulate matter air pollution. The Association of Irritated Residents (AIR) alleges that EPA has failed to approve or disapprove California’s plan to meet the Clean Air Act’s minimum requirements for fine particulate matter pollution to the detriment of Valley residents’ public health and well-being.

Fine particulate matter is a deadly pollutant that aggravates respiratory conditions, including asthma, and also contributes to cardiac illness. California must regulate PM2.5 air pollutants, which have a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less and are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, but as the lawsuit alleges, the EPA is not doing its part to ensure California can act. The American Lung Association ranks the San Joaquin Valley counties of Kern, Tulare, Fresno, and Kings as the second, third, sixth and ninth most PM2.5-polluted counties in the United States for long term exposure.

As required by Congress, EPA has a legal obligation to approve or disapprove California’s plan within 18 months of receipt. California’s Air Resources Board submitted the PM2.5 plan to EPA on June 30, 2008. EPA’s deadline to take final action passed on December 30, 2009. “EPA is sitting on its hands and allowing low income communities of color in the Valley to suffer the health consequences,” said Tom Frantz, President of AIR. “The Valley already has the worst air pollution in the country and our communities don’t have the resources to bear the continually-increasing health burden of toxic air,” Frantz added.

Until EPA approves or disapproves the PM2.5 plan neither the agency nor citizens can enforce the strategies laid out in the plan to ensure that California complies with the Clean Air Act. Moreover, the delay has allowed California to implement a strategy in the San Joaquin Valley since June of 2008 that might not be consistent with the Clean Air Act’s requirements.

“Poor people in the Valley are dying from breathing fine particulate matter and EPA continues to ignore its duty,” said Frantz. “EPA needs to get off the sidelines and into the game.”

The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) represents AIR.

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For more information, contact: Contact: Tom Frantz, AIR (661) 910-7734 or Alegria De La Cruz, CRPE (661) 370-5775

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