Odessa, TEXAS — The Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of the Sierra Club, is asking a federal judge to release $275,000 to the Ector County Independent School District to resolve an environmental lawsuit. The funds will be used to buy air filters for existing air purifiers in roughly 3,500 classrooms and offices within the district. The request was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, in Midland.
The $275,000 was previously set aside for a beneficial local air quality purpose as part of a 2020 legal settlement in a Clean Air Act lawsuit involving the Sierra Club and Canyon Midstream Partners, LLC.
Indoor air filters help improve the air that people breathe and reduce the spread of certain respiratory illnesses like COVID.
In January 2022, ECISD installed medical-grade air purifiers in 3,503 classrooms and offices throughout the district to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The purifiers remove 99.97% of virus, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles from the indoor air. To keep working properly, air purifiers need periodic replacement of the air filters. The $275,000 funding announced today will allow the school district to purchase approximately 4,435 additional HEPA replacement filters to help keep indoor air quality healthy for ECISD students, teachers, and staff.
In addition to protecting Ector County students from COVID-19 infection, the air purifiers will also eliminate many of the airborne substances in indoor air that are known to trigger asthma symptoms. West Texas students and staff encounter a variety of asthma triggers daily, both indoors and outdoors, including mold spores, dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and air pollution.
Lauren Fleer, engineer, Environmental Integrity Project, said: “Asthma rates in the Permian Basin are too high. Indoor air purifiers in schools, with regular filter replacement, will reduce exposures to asthma triggers and help students, teachers and staff breathe easier.”
Neil Carman, clean air director, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said: “Residents of the Permian Basin do not get the same level of clean air protections that people in Houston or Dallas get. If the Biden administration and the EPA are serious about environmental justice and climate change, they have lots of work to do in Odessa, Texas.”
The Sierra Club is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth; and to educating and enlisting humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.
The Environmental Integrity Project is a 20-year-old non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to enforcing the nation’s anti-pollution laws to protect public health, empower communities, and help heal the planet.
Media contact: Ilan Levin, Environmental Integrity Project, 512-619-7287