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Wildearth Guardians, a nonprofit conservation and environmental organization, has filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claiming that the EPA failed “to perform a nondiscretionary act or duty under the Clean Air Act.”

The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, asks for a finding that the agency and its administrator are violating the law and asks the court to compel the agency to take the steps as required.

The action filed Thursday layers on top of a whistleblower complaint that staff members of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment filed with the inspector general of the EPA alleging that the state was not enforcing federal air-quality rules and permitting certain companies, including some in Northern Colorado, to operate without the required emission tests.

The Wildearth case said that the metropolitan Denver area and parts of the north Front Range, including Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties, have exceeded federal air quality standards and alleges that Colorado was required to submit a plan to clean up ozone pollution by Aug. 2 of last year. It did not submit a plan, the suit said. That inaction should have triggered the EPA to make a determination by Feb. 3 this year that the state was out of compliance.

The EPA determination then starts the clock running for the state, which would have to submit a cleanup plan within two years, or in the alternative, the EPA could develop the plan.

“The EPA’s delay is effectively denying clean air for the Denver Metro-North Front Range region,” the suit said.

The suit asked the court to force the EPA to make its determination within 15 days.

Richard Mylott, spokesman for the Region 8 EPA office in Denver, declined to comment, saying that the EPA does not comment on pending litigation.

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