Pruitt Breaking the Law by not Telling the American People About Unsafe Smog Pollution

WASHINGTON – Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has missed the statutory deadline to report to the American people which U.S. counties exceed the national health standard for ground-level ozone, or smog.

The following is a statement from John Walke, director of the Clean Air Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council: 

“Mr. Pruitt is showing a blatant disregard for the law by refusing to give Americans a full accounting of how much unsafe smog they’re breathing. That’s irresponsible. It’s illegal. It risks the health of millions of people and stalls required cleanup steps. And it’s why we’ll continue to use every tool available to make sure all Americans learn sooner rather than later whether their air is dirty and endangering their health.”


On Oct. 1, 2015, EPA strengthened its smog standard, reducing the acceptable limit from 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb to better protect Americans, especially children, senior citizens and anyone who works or exercises outdoors, from the harmful effects of smog pollution. The Clean Air Act gives the agency two years to announce which areas of the country have unsafe smog levels of 70 ppb or higher.

In 2025, EPA’s analysis shows that the more protective limit is expected to prevent 230,000 asthma attacks among children, 160,000 days when dirty air keeps kids home from school, 630 asthma-related emergency room visits, 340 cases of acute bronchitis among children and 320 to 660 premature deaths, outside of California.

The Golden State would see 160,000 fewer childhood asthma attacks, 120,000 fewer days when children with asthma can't go to school, 380 fewer trips to the emergency room, 64 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children and 120 to 220 fewer premature deaths.

But this important safeguard can only protect people's health if the EPA tells the whole truth about which areas of the country don’t comply. States can’t meet their legal obligation to devise plans to reduce smog to safe levels if they don't know everywhere the problem exists.

If we have to take Pruitt back to court to protect the health of millions of Americans, NRDC stands ready to do so again.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 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, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

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