WClarke, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Our Campaigns

Environmental Defense: Clean Air

Goal: Defend our air from attempts by the Trump administration to suspend enforcement of our environmental laws and let polluters off the hook.
In the midst of an ongoing public health emergency, we need clean air now more than ever. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy that suspends enforcement of key provisions of the Clean Air Act and other laws during the coronavirus pandemic, letting companies off the hook for failing to monitor or report their pollution.
  • <h6 class='slideTitle'>Actions the Trump administration is taking</h6><h4 class='slideSubtitle'> Undermining  mercury and air toxic standards</h4><h5 class='slideText'>The Trump administration has moved to undermine the rule dramatically reducing mercury pollution from power plants that has contaminated fish in our rivers, lakes and streams.</h5><p class='slideCredit'>Big Bend power plant in Tampa, Fla.<br>Public Domain via Pikist</p>
  • <h6 class='slideTitle'>Actions the Trump administration is taking</h6><h4 class='slideSubtitle'>Rolling back clean car standards</h4><h5 class='slideText'>The Trump administration has moved to roll back federal Clean Car standards, one of our best tools to reduce tailpipe emissions that contribute to smog, which threatens our health.</h5><p class='slideCredit'>Preparing a vehicle for tailpipe emissions measurements. <br>Argonne National Laboratory via Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</p>
  • <h6 class='slideTitle'>Actions the Trump administration is taking</h6><h4 class='slideSubtitle'>Rigging the Clean Air Act</h4><h5 class='slideText'>The EPA has now rigged its cost-benefit analysis, artificially discounting the major health benefits of cleaner air so as to undermine strong clean air protections.</h5><p class='slideCredit'>wavebreakermedia via Shutterstock.com</p>
“An open license to pollute”

The Clean Air Act relies on companies to regularly monitor and report their own pollution. Without monitoring and reporting, we have no idea what facilities are releasing into the air we breathe — which is why former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy called the policy an "open license to pollute."

View from the Hollywood Hills, air pollution is visible in downtown Los Angeles.
Diliff, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Enforcement is what makes our environmental protections work

The Clean Air Act sets limits on pollution to protect our health and requires companies to submit reports showing whether they are abiding by those limits or exceeding them.

Recent legal action against ExxonMobil’s refinery and chemical complex in Baytown, Texas, provides an example of how monitoring and reporting are critical to holding polluters accountable.

Sprawling over 3,400 acres east of downtown Houston, Exxon’s facility released 10 million pounds of illegal air pollution where tens of thousands of people live and breathe. When citizens groups took the company to court, a federal judge ruled that the company had committed 16,386 days of violation of the federal Clean Air Act and ordered a record $19.95 million penalty.

The key to holding the company accountable was the thousands of pages of Exxon’s own legally mandated pollution reports. Reporting and monitoring documents have been equally vital in dozens of other air pollution cases against Chevron, Shell and several other companies.

That's why we're campaigning to get the EPA to abandon this pandemic polluter loophole.

Photo Denbow
We have what it takes to get this done.

Environment America Research & Policy Center will:

  • Sound the alarm so the public knows how dire this lack of enforcement is for our health and our environment.
  • Raise the voices of people living in the shadow of refineries, steel mills and other pollution facilities, as well as health experts about the impacts of air pollution.
  • Use this public awareness to convince Congress to hold the EPA accountable for enforcing the Clean Air Act.

Our team has documented EPA enforcement failures and resulting pollution. Through dozens of citizen suits under the Clean Air Act, our national network partners have gained expertise in the role of monitoring and reporting at refineries, steel mills and other complex polluting facilities. And most importantly, we know how to get the word out and inspire people to take action in defense of our environment.

The last thing we need during a respiratory pandemic is more toxic air pollution. Every week that goes by without strong enforcement of our environmental laws puts our air at risk from illegal pollution.

To protect our air, the EPA must rescind its pandemic polluter loophole and enforce the law.