L.A. Doctors Sue EPA Over Smog

A group of pissed off doctors in L.A. are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for not doing its job to clamp down on smog.

In November 1990, the South Coast Air Basin region, which stretches from Malibu to Laguna Niguel, was given the worst possible rating of "extreme" with regard to the amount of ozone in the air averaged over the course of an hour.

Under federal clean-air law, the region had 20 years to clean up, and the the EPA had until May 15 to rule whether the one-hour standard had been attained and whether the air district should be penalized for not meeting the minimum standard.

The EPA, apparently, has dropped the ball.

According to the lawsuit:

[The plaintiffs] bring this Clean Air Act citizen enforcement action to compel EPA to undertake its non-discretionary duty to determine whether the South Coast Air Basin has met or failed to meet [the Clean Air Act's] one-hour standard for ground-level ozone by statutory deadline and to impose consequences for failure to attain the standard.

EPA has thus failed to make this determination. Until EPA fulfills its mandatory duty under the Clean Air Act, the South Coast Air Basin's air quality will continue to endanger the health of California citizens.

The one-hour standard, according to the LA Times, requires less than .12 parts per million of ozone in the air, versus last year's rating in the region of .143 parts per million.

The physicians group that filed the lawsuit in federal court, comprised of more than 5,000 SoCal health professionals, is concerned because even ozone amounts below the required levels exacerbate asthma and can stunt children's lung development, among many health-related problems.

"Had EPA complied with the Clean Air Act," the doctors argue, "the EPA's determination would already have triggered the South Coast Air Basin's duty to rectify its inadequate plan to meet the one-hour ozone standard."

Perhaps this lawsuit will get the EPA to act.

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