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Deadly, Fouled Air OK with EPA, Groups Say

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The Environmental Protection Agency has not acted on rules submitted by the California Air Resources Board that if enacted would improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley, potentially saving hundreds of lives each year, claims the Associated of Irritated Residents.

The California Air Resources Board submitted its proposed rule in August 2002, leaving the EPA 18 months to decide whether the proposed rule meets the minimal requirements of the Clean Air Act, which it has still not done, according to the complaint.

The plaintiff association - AIR - represents residents from Fresno, Kern, Kings, Stanislaus and Tulare Counties, some of the most ozone-polluted areas in the country. More than 1,000 people are estimated die there each year due to long-term exposure to smog and fine particle precursors. AIR says this situation could already have been improved if the EPA had adopted the revisions or disapproved them, so the state could change them to meet the standards.

AIR wants an injunction that finds the EPA's inaction a violation of the Clean Air Act, directing the EPA to make a decision, and the court given jurisdiction over the matter until the EPA complies with its duties.

AIR is represented by Marybelle Nzegwu of the Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment in San Francisco.

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