118 Conservation, Environmental and Health Groups Blast Ozone Bill for Endangering Public Health

WASHINGTON – More than 100 conservation, environmental and health groups representing millions of Americans today strongly criticized legislation before the House this week that would delay safer federal clean air standards, putting the American public’s health at significant risk from smoggy air.

“This legislation would actually systematically weaken the Clean Air Act without a single improvement, undermine Americans’ 46-year right to healthy air based on medical science, and delay life-saving health standards already years overdue,” the groups said in a letter sent to lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, urging them to reject the House bill and its Senate companion.

The “Ozone Standards Protection Act,” the letter states, would cripple protections and delay stronger standards for smog pollution set last year by the Environmental Protection Agency. Even  the public’s right to know if the air is safe to breathe would be jeopardized.

The legislation also excuses parts of the country with the worst smog pollution from taking protective steps required under today’s law if they do not reduce pollution. And the legislation could give polluters new leeway to expose communities to unhealthy levels of smog, soot, sulfur dioxide and toxic lead pollution, according to the letter.

The letter is here: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/hr4775-community-opposition-letter-20160607.pdf

The full text follows:

June 7, 2016

Dear Senator/Representative,

On behalf of our millions of members, the undersigned 118 organizations urge you to oppose the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act” (H.R. 4775, S. 2882). The innocuous-sounding name is misleading: this legislation would actually systematically weaken the Clean Air Act without a single improvement, undermine Americans’ 46-year right to healthy air based on medical science, and delay life-saving health standards already years overdue.

This bill’s vision of “Ozone Standards Implementation” eliminates health benefits and the right to truly safe air that Americans enjoy under today’s law. First, the legislation would delay for ten years the right to safer air quality, and even the simple right to know if the air is safe to breathe. Corporations applying for air pollution permits would be free to ignore new ground-level ozone (aka smog) health standards during these additional ten years. For the first time the largest sources of air pollution would be allowed to exceed health standards. The bill would also outright excuse the parts of the country suffering the worst smog pollution from having backup plans if they do not reduce pollution. The most polluted parts of the country should not stop doing everything they can to protect their citizens’ health and environment by cleaning up smog pollution.

This bill is not content to merely weaken and delay reductions in smog pollution. It also strikes at our core right to clean air based on health and medical science. The medically-based health standards that the law has been founded on for 46 years instead could become a political football weakened by polluter compliance costs. This could well result in communities being exposed to unhealthy levels of smog and soot and sulfur dioxide and even toxic lead pollution. The bill would also double the law’s five-year review periods for recognizing the latest science and updating health standards, which are already frequently years late; this means in practice that unhealthy air would persist for longer than ten years.

The legislation also weakens implementation of current clean air health standards. The bill expands exemptions for “exceptional events” that are not counted towards compliance with health standards for air quality, even when air pollution levels are unsafe. This will mean more unsafe air more often, with no responsibility to clean it up. Requirements meant to ensure progress toward reducing smog and soot pollution would shift from focusing on public health and achievability to economic costs. Despite the bland name “Ozone Standards Implementation Act,” this bill represents an extreme attack on the most fundamental safeguards and rights in the Clean Air Act. 

Since 1970, the Federal Clean Air Act has been organized around one governing principle—that the EPA must set health standards based on medical science for dangerous air pollution, including smog, soot and lead, that protect all Americans, with “an adequate margin of safety” for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly and asthmatics. This legislation eviscerates that principle and protection. We urge you to oppose H.R. 4775 and S. 2882, to protect our families and Americans’ rights to clean air.




350 Loudoun

Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Alton Area Cluster UCM (United Congregations
   of Metro-East)

Brentwood House

California Latino Business Institute

Center for Biological Diversity

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility

Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility

Citizens for Clean Air

Clean Air Watch

Clean Water Action

Cleveland Environmental Action Network

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley

Connecticut League of Conservation Voters

Conservation Voters for Idaho

Conservation Voters of South Carolina

Dakota Resource Council

Earth Day Network



Environment Iowa

Environment America

Environment Arizona

Environment California

Environment Colorado

Environment Connecticut

Environment Florida

Environment Georgia

Environment Illinois

Environment Maine

Environment Maryland

Environment Massachusetts

Environment Michigan

Environment Minnesota

Environment Missouri

Environment Montana

Environment Nevada

Environment New Hampshire

Environment New Jersey

Environment New Mexico

Environment North Carolina

Environment Ohio

Environment Oregon

Environment Rhode Island

Environment Texas

Environment Virginia

Environment Washington

Environmental Defense Action Fund

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)

Environmental Law & Policy Center

Ethical Society of St. Louis

Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

Florida Conservation Voters

Fort Collins Sustainability Group


Health Care Without Harm

Iowa Interfaith Power & Light

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society


Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO)

Latino Donor Collaborative

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

Maine Conservation Voters

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Michigan League of Conservation Voters

Moms Clean Air Force

Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund

Montana Environmental Information Center

National Parks Conservation Association

Natural Resources Defense Council

NC League of Conservation Voters

Nevada Conservation League

New Mexico Environmental Law Center

New York League of Conservation Voters

Northern Plains Resource Council

OEC Action Fund

Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Communities    

   United for Responsible Energy

Oregon League of Conservation Voters

Partnership for Policy Integrity


People Demanding Action, Tucson Chapter

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Maine  


Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Arizona

Physicians for Social Responsibility, SF Bay Area  


Physicians for Social Responsibility, Tennessee


Physicians for Social Responsibility, Wisconsin  


Powder River Basin Resource Council

Public Citizen

Public Citizen's Texas Office

RVA Interfaith Climate Justice Team

Safe Climate Campaign

San Juan Citizens Alliance

Sierra Club

Southern Environmental Law Center

Sustainable Energy & Economic Development 

   (SEED) Coalition

Texas Campaign for the Environment

Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

Texas League of Conservation Voters

The Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut  

   Hills United Church

Trust for America's Health

Union of Concerned Scientists

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment

Valley Watch

Virginia Organizing

Virginia Interfaith Power & Light

Voces Verdes

Voices for Progress

Washington Conservation Voters

Western Colorado Congress

Western Organization of Resource Councils

Wisconsin Environmental Health Network

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

Wisconsin Environment

Wyoming Outdoor Council



The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at http://www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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