Legal Winds Challenge EPA’s Decade-Long Silence on Nitrogen Oxides Standards!

October 6, 2023
2 mins read
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center(CC BY 2.0 DEED)
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center(CC BY 2.0 DEED)

The lawsuit filed on September 28, 2023, by the Center for Biological Diversity, alongside other environmental groups, challenges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its negligence in addressing the perilous nitrogen air pollution in the United States. Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), known contributors to smog, acid rain, and respiratory illnesses, have been under-researched by the EPA, which has not reviewed and updated the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for these compounds since 2010. This inaction violates the Clean Air Act’s mandate for a review every five years and puts numerous lives at risk, especially considering recent research that links even low-level NOx pollution to an increased risk of dementia, depression, and exacerbated outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, underscores the EPA’s obligation to protect public health and the environment from harmful air pollutants. Vehicles, power plants, and industrial facilities, as the primary sources of nitrogen oxide emissions, contribute to the transformation of this pollution into harmful substances like smog and soot. Scientific evidence reviewed in 2010 revealed that short-term exposure to NO2 could likely cause respiratory issues, trigger asthma attacks, and even lead to the development of asthma with prolonged exposure. Vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly, are at heightened risk, and the lawsuit emphasizes the EPA’s duty to ensure clean air for communities.

The Clean Air Act mandates the EPA to establish and periodically evaluate national ambient air quality standards for various pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and lead, to ensure the protection of public health and welfare across the nation. However, the EPA’s extended delay in updating the NOx standards is alarming, and the lawsuit demands a swift review and revision of the NAAQS for nitrogen oxides. The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit conservation organization with over 1.7 million members and online activists, has been a prominent advocate for environmental causes and has taken legal action to address the urgent need to tackle air pollution and its detrimental impact on public health.

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The emission of NOx also leads to acid rain, which adversely affects aquatic life, forests, and buildings. The lawsuit aims to hold the EPA accountable for its responsibilities according to the Clean Air Act, and environmental groups are hopeful that this legal action will instigate necessary changes in air quality standards. While the EPA has not yet responded to the allegations made in the lawsuit, the Center for Biological Diversity remains steadfast in its commitment to environmental justice. An environmental lawyer involved in the case insists that immediate action is imperative, as further delays cannot be afforded.

The lawsuit not only emphasizes the ongoing battle against air pollution and the importance of regulatory oversight but also brings attention to the broader issue of regulatory delays and their negative impact on public health. An environmental group representative expresses hope that this lawsuit will serve as a wake-up call for the EPA, and the outcome could set a precedent for future environmental litigation. The Center for Biological Diversity’s dedication to this cause is evident in their relentless pursuit of justice, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to combat air pollution and its associated risks while urging the EPA to fulfill its duties and protect the public. As the legal proceedings unfold, the world watches, anticipating the potential ramifications for environmental policy and public health.

Farheen Memon

I am a writer interested in exploring and shedding light on global issues. Lately, I've been concentrating on environmental problems, discovering effective solutions, and making conscious choices.

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