Environmentalists sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday for missing a deadline for implementing strict standards for controlling smog-forming ozone set in motion by the Obama administration.
“We cannot stand by as an executive official flagrantly flouts the law. It’s dangerous and corrosive,” said attorney Seth Johnson with the environmental group Earthjustice.
Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association sued the EPA to designate the regions of the nation that are not in compliance with the ozone rules. EPA missed the October deadline.
In November, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he was still consulting with states and local regions on how to meet the standards and needed more time before making any decisions on noncompliance areas.
Under the ozone rules, the EPA must designate regions of the country that cannot comply with the standards and then work with the states to develop plans to reduce the smog-forming pollution.
“More than half the people in the United States live in a county where EPA has yet to say if air quality meets the strengthened standard," Johnson said. "Everyone deserves to breathe clean air. And because of the Clean Air Act, we’re legally entitled to it.”
Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said he is "extremely disappointed but not surprised" at Pruitt’s "unwillingness to declare the areas in our country that are not meeting ozone standards."
In June, Pruitt tried to impose a lengthy delay on the implementation of the rules, which he reversed after legal challenges.