Balderas Urges Congress to Oppose Rollback of Air Quality Standards


Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216

Ozone standards would prevent up to 660 premature deaths and 230,000 asthma attacks in children

Las Cruces, NM – This morning, Attorney General Hector Balderas joined a coalition of 16 Attorneys General in urging Congress to reject the rollback of critical protective ozone air quality standards. In letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the coalition detailed its opposition to S. 263 / H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, which would roll back the ozone rule promulgated  by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 – marking a major step backwards in efforts to combat pollution and its negative impact on public health.

“I am urging Congress not roll back critical air quality standards and to protect New Mexico children suffering from asthma and our senior citizens who would be greatly harmed by the reduced standards,” said Attorney General Balderas. “We cannot afford the health crisis this rollback will cause our state and New Mexico’s children, senior citizens and beautiful environment deserve much better.”

People exposed to elevated levels of ozone suffer from lung tissue damage, as well as aggravation of asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and emphysema; children and seniors are particularly susceptible for ozone’s harmful health effects. The 2015 ozone rule is expected to result in vital public health benefits. In fact, the EPA conservatively estimated that meeting the new standards would result in annual public health benefits of up to $4.5 billion starting in 2025, while also preventing approximately:

  • 316 to 660 premature deaths;
  • 230,000 asthma attacks in children;
  • 160,000 missed school days;
  • 28,000 missed work days;
  • 630 asthma-related emergency room visits; and
  • 340 cases of acute bronchitis in children

“This bill would not only delay implementation of more protective ozone air quality standards, but, more broadly, would undermine the mandate in the Clean Air Act (Act) that the national ambient air quality standards for ozone and other criteria pollutants be based on up-to-date scientific evidence and focus solely on protecting public health and welfare,” the Attorneys General wrote. “As explained below, these measures would be a significant step backward in combatting the dangers of ozone and other criteria pollutants.”

“In summary, ozone pollution remains a serious and persistent problem for our nation, posing a particular risk to the health of children, the elderly and the sick, as well as individuals who spend time outdoors. Because S. 263 would represent a significant step backward in combatting ozone and other dangerous criteria pollutants, we urge you to oppose the bill,” the Attorneys General conclude.

The letters were signed by the Attorneys General of New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Click here for copies of the letters that were sent yesterday –