Aug 21, 2023
EPA’s decision to restart and further delay ozone pollution standards will burden millions of Latines nationwide
Washington, DC - Earlier today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they will abandon their reconsideration process of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone pollution and restart the rulemaking entirely. EPA’s decision will delay finalization of these health protective standards from 2024 to an unknown timeline further into the future.
EPA’s decision is an upset to the environmental justice movement who has spent years pushing the agency to revise their decision under the Trump Administration to not strengthen the standards in 2020 and instead follow the recommendations of their independent scientific panel – the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) – to increase the stringency from 70 parts per billion (ppb) to 55-60 ppb. This decision to further delay also runs contrary to the recommendation recently put forward by the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). In their letter, WHEJAC underscored the urgency of putting out an updated ozone pollution standard by no later than Spring 2024 in order to protect all people but especially black, brown and indigenous communities that have been disproportionately burdened by the harmful effects of ozone pollution.
Ozone, specifically ground-level ozone, is created when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) react with heat. These pollutants typically come from industrial plants, exhaust pipes, wildfires, and other sources. As the climate crisis increasingly fuels the frequency and intensity of heat waves, as we have seen this summer, managing ozone pollution will become exceedingly important. Nearly 10 million Latines are exposed to unhealthy levels of ozone pollution in the U.S., disproportionately affecting the health of nuestras familias.
Irene Burga, GreenLatinos Climate Justice & Clean Air Director, released the following statement:
“Ozone is an extremely dangerous air pollutant to the Latine community and it should not be dismissed by the EPA. As summers become hotter, we face longer ozone seasons where the danger of asthma attacks, wheezing, shortness of breath, and other ozone-related illnesses are at its height. This translated to real world impacts in the form of more days called off work, lost wages, missed school days, and unaffordable hospital bills and medication expenses. Simply put, ozone pollution is disruptive and harmful to Latine communities who are least responsible for the pollution that they are exposed to. Starting a new review of the ozone pollution standard pushes the finalization and implementation of health protective limits on ozone pollution into unknown timelines that could extend action into the end of the decade. The EPA has a duty and the ability to act now but instead is choosing to delay action and keep our people recklessly exposed to pollution that significantly obstructs our physical health and economic opportunity.
GreenLatinos is a national non-profit organization that convenes an active comunidad of Latino/a/x leaders committed to addressing national, regional, and local environmental, natural resources and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States.
GreenLatinos (NOTA: GreenLatinos es UNA PALABRA) es una comunidad activa de líderes latinos/as/es, envalentonados por el poder y la sabiduría de nuestra cultura, unidos para exigir equidad y desmantelar el racismo, con recursos para ganar nuestras batallas ambientales, de conservación y de justicia climática, y impulsados a asegurar nuestra liberación política, económica, cultural y ambiental.