A coalition of eight northeastern attorneys general led by New York’s Eric T. Schneiderman and including Connecticut’s George Jepsen have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force action under the Clean Air Act to ensure upwind states control the smog pollution that has permeated the region.In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the attorneys general challenge the EPA’s denial of a 2013 petition seeking the addition of nine states – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia – to the Ozone Transport Region, a provision of the Clean Air Act designed to combat interstate pollution. States outside and upwind of the Ozone Transport Region are not mandated to enact the same level of pollution controls as those within the region, and the lawsuit charged the interstate transport of air pollution from upwind states outside of the Ozone Transport Region ran afoul of the 2008 federal smog standard.
The attorneys general negotiated a consent decree that required EPA to approve or disapprove the petition no later than Oct. 27, 2017. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected the petition. In addition to New York and Connecticut, the other states in the lawsuit are all within the Ozone Transport Region: Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Maine, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia are also within the region, but are not part of the lawsuit.
“Millions of New Yorkers are breathing unhealthy air as smog pollution continues to pour in from other states,” Schneiderman said. “The federal government has a fundamental responsibility to act. Yet the Trump EPA has abandoned its responsibilities – repeatedly failing to act to control smog pollution that jeopardizes New Yorkers’ health. Attorneys general will continue to act to protect those we serve.”