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Conservation Groups Announce Intent To Sue EPA Over Air Pollution In San Diego

Storm clouds are pictured over downtown San Diego, Jan. 25, 2021.
KPBS Staff
Storm clouds are pictured over downtown San Diego, Jan. 25, 2021.

Two conservation groups Thursday filed a formal notice of their intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its alleged failure to ensure San Diego County and other regions across the country rein in harmful air pollution.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health say San Diego and Ventura counties are among six regions in the state that have failed to meet basic air-quality standards for ozone.

In a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Jane Nishida, they allege the federal agency has failed to meet its duty to ensure that adequate plans are in place to control pollution from the oil and methane gas industry in California — including the San Diego region — as well as five other eastern U.S. states.


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"There's clearly bipartisan support to reduce air pollution from the oil and methane gas industry, but what's been missing is the political will to get it done," said Robert Ukeiley, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

"We're calling on the Biden administration to take the common-sense steps that will protect people and wildlife alike from dangerous pollution from the fossil fuel industry," he said. "Ultimately, the key to safeguarding the air we breathe is to move quickly away from drilling and fracking."

The groups say the areas outlined in their letter are home to more than 48.7 million people, or about 15% of the U.S. population.

"As we transition away from fossil fuels, we need to ensure that all of our energy sources are as protective of public health as possible," said Kaya Sugerman, director of the Center for Environmental Health's illegal toxic threats program. "Polluting industries, not the public, should pay the price for the impacts of extraction."