Lawsuit launched against Trump's EPA for failing to protect Utahns from harmful pollution
Several organizations have filed a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), citing the organization's failure to enforce air quality standards, a press release stated.
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) says the EPA failed to limit particulate pollution from fossil fuels, industrial livestock operations and other sources near Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah -- as well as parts of Pinal County in Arizona.
“Nothing is more important than the air we breathe, and the Trump administration has utterly failed to protect Utahns from one of the most dangerous forms of pollution,” Deeda Seed, a Center for Biological Diversity campaigner in Salt Lake City, said in a press release.
CBD, the Center for Environmental Health, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Westside Coalition and SLC Air Protectors are advocating for the EPA enforce clean air standards, as required by the Clean Air Act.
The CBD says the EPA has previously determined that the Salt Lake City area has high amounts of particulate matter pollution from soot, smoke and other sources. This could trigger heart attacks, strokes, asthma, bronchitis and even death, a press release stated.
There is no known safe level of fine particulate matter, because small amounts can lead to death and disease, the CBD reported.
An EPA study found that the Clean Air Act programs that reduce the fine particle pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone, a press release stated.
“Even research paid for in part by the polluters themselves has confirmed that fine particulate matter can lead to premature mortality as well as a variety of other adverse health outcomes,” Caroline Cox, a senior scientist with the Center for Environmental Health, said in a press release. “With the science being so clear, it is just mind-boggling that the Trump administration has no commitment to adequately protecting us from dangerous air pollution like particulate matter.”
Research shows that west side communities in Salt Lake City are particularly hard hit by air quality problems due to their proximity to refineries, highways and the airport.
Salt Lake and Davis Counties are the most affected. Weber, Box Elder and Tooele Counties are partially affected, a press release stated.
"Based on our location, residents of our west-side communities are more likely to and are being measurably harmed by the current poor air quality," Richard Holman, co-chair of the Westside Coalition, which is made up of six Salt Lake City west side communities advocating for the safety, health and quality of life of residents, said in a press release. “Our air quality problems need to get fixed and we want the EPA to step up and do its job.”
Besides causing health issues, particulate pollution can also cause regional haze, harms plants and acidifies bodies of water.
“The medical research has greatly expanded our understanding of just how harmful our air pollution is, and Utah's population growth alone will make air pollution an even greater problem for our future,” Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said in a press release. “These two realities must compel the EPA to follow through on protecting our health. The EPA must hold Utah state government accountable to produce a real plan with a real deadline to ensure healthy air for all Utahns.”
The CBD says the EPA needs to help Utah solve its poor air quality. Especially because of the proposed inland port authority, which will be built next to the Salt Lake City International Airport.
“It’s irresponsible and unethical for the EPA to fail to hold the state of Utah to vital air quality standards and deadlines while we remain in nonattainment over the last decade. An average of 2,000 people in Utah die annually due to our poisonous air,” Robyn Adamson, a founding board member of SLC Air Protectors, stated in a press release.“The EPA must take notice of the estimated 20,000 Utahns who lost their lives due to our poor air quality over the last decade. This becomes urgent as the probability of additional pollution from the proposed inland port becomes more eminent.”