President Obama's Decision to Miss the Health Standard Deadline is Untenable

Fourth Delay of Lifesaving Smog Standard Means Millions of People Must Breathe Dangerous Levels of Deadly Pollutant With No Relief In Sight

Washington, D.C. (July 26, 2011)

Statement of Charles D. Connor, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is gravely disappointed President Obama will not complete the national air quality standard for ozone, or smog by the July 29 deadline. Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an unwarranted fourth delay in a year for that lifesaving clean air standard. This untenable delay means more Americans will get sick and more will die. There is no possible acceptable excuse for this decision.

This past summer has seen day after day of unhealthy levels of the nation’s most widespread and one of the most dangerous air pollutants. Delay in setting the standard mean delay in putting clean-up measures in place that can reduce ozone and protect the health of millions of people.

Ozone air pollution causes premature death, asthma attacks, and difficulty breathing. Ozone can send people with lung disease, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to the emergency room and the hospital. The public has a right to know when the level of air pollution in their community can harm their health. An American Lung Association poll shows that the public strongly supports and expects the EPA to set the health standard for ozone smog.

Big corporate polluters and some in Congress have placed intense pressure on the White House, trying to weaken the standard or to ignore the Clean Air Act. We urge the President to recognize that the polluters’ tired and discredited arguments are no more valid now than they were when they first trotted them out decades ago. Protecting public health is the central tenet of the Clean Air Act. We urge the adoption of the strongest, most protective ozone standard under consideration: 60 parts per billion.

The Clean Air Act requires the establishment of a national air quality standard that defines the limit on the amount of ozone pollution that can be in the air nationwide. In 2008, the American Lung Association and others filed litigation in federal court on the inadequate and unlawful ozone standard set by the Bush Administration. We are again exploring with counsel our legal options.

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.