Resulting in what environmentalists called a "victory for everyone who breathes," a federal district court in California on Monday ruled that President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency is violating the law by not implementing crucial smog protection guidelines mandated under the Clean Air Act.
"A victory for everyone who breathes, and is clear evidence that Scott Pruitt's frequent attempts to delay and obstruct federal clean air safeguards is against the law." —Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra ClubAccording to Judge Haywood Stirling Gilliam Jr. of the federal District Court for the District of Northern California, EPA chief Scott Pruitt broke the law by not listing areas in the country that are failing to comply with air pollution standards—a violation of "his nondiscretionary duty under" the federal law—and gave him until April 30th to list those areas publicly.
While Pruitt submitted designations for areas in the country that were complying with smog guidelines, he has refused to list those areas which were failing to meet minimum standards—a refusal which resulted in legal action by sixteen state attorneys general and a coalition of environmental groups.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The lawsuits, filed against Pruitt and the EPA in December, said that areas suffering from ozone pollution and lacking the required designation include the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles and New York City area.
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One of the requirements triggered when an area does not meet the ozone standard is a mandate that new factories and power plants must have state-of-the-art pollution controls.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, "The stakes are high. The smog-reducing requirements at issue will save hundreds of lives and prevent 230,000 asthma attacks among children.
"We will closely monitor the EPA to make sure it complies with the court's order," Becerra said.
Monday's ruling, said Mary Anne Hitt, director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, "is a victory for everyone who breathes, and is clear evidence that Scott Pruitt's frequent attempts to delay and obstruct federal clean air safeguards is against the law. The severity of Pruitt's attempts are a matter of life and death. Delaying the implementation of these life saving smog standards puts the health of thousands of kids at risk."