Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017. Dubbed the "Smoggy Skies Act" by health and medical organizations, the bill would permanently weaken the Clean Air Act and represents a direct threat to public health. In response to its passage, Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, issued the following statement:
"The Smoggy Skies Act jeopardizes the health of millions of Americans. The bill would delay lifesaving protections against ozone pollution, exposing Americans to unnecessary pollution levels that will lead to asthma attacks and premature deaths that could have been prevented. The bill also permanently weakens Clean Air Act authority to reduce ozone and other harmful air pollutants like carbon monoxide, lead and particle pollution in the future. The Lung Association is deeply disappointed that the U.S. House of Representatives approved this attack on Americans' right to breathe healthy air, and calls upon the Senate to reject this bill.
"Once fully implemented, the 2015 ozone pollution limit would prevent up to 230,000 asthma attacks in children, 160,000 missed school days, 28,000 missed work days, and up to 660 premature deaths, annually. The Smoggy Skies Act would force families to wait at least eight years for these health benefits – an enormous step in the wrong direction when four in 10 Americans remain at risk from unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the Lung Association's 2017 ‘State of the Air' report.
"In addition to the deadly delays, the Smoggy Skies Act would permanently weaken the Clean Air Act, a bedrock clean air protection that has enabled the country to make great strides in reducing pollution and saving lives. The Clean Air Act wisely directs EPA to establish limits on criteria pollutants based on what health science shows is needed to protect Americans' health, with a margin of safety. The bill would gut this core health requirement.
"Furthermore, the Smoggy Skies Act would direct EPA to review and update pollution standards less frequently. This would put Americans at greater risk of exposure to levels of air pollution that the current science shows are unsafe to breathe. Parents have the right to know when the air is harmful and should not be denied the opportunity to safeguard their kids. For children with asthma, withholding this information from parents could mean a trip to the emergency room that could have been prevented.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.