15 states take on EPA over smog rule de­lay

Court asked to stop agency’s ex­ten­sion of ozone dead­line.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Michael Biesecker

At­tor­neys general from 15 states filed a le­gal chal­lenge Tues­day over the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­lay of Obama-era rules re­duc­ing emis­sions of smog-caus­ing air pol­lu­tants.

The states pe­ti­tioned the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit to over­turn En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt’s ex­ten­sion of dead­lines to com­ply with the 2015 Ozone Na­tional Am­bi­ent Air Qual­ity Stan­dards.

Pruitt an­nounced in June he was ex­tend­ing the dead­lines by at least one year while his agency stud­ies and re­con­sid­ers the re­quire­ments. Sev­eral pro-busi­ness groups are op­posed to the stricter rules, in­clud­ing the Amer­i­can Petroleum In­sti­tute, the Amer­i­can Chem­istry Coun­cil and the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce.

New York At­tor­ney General Eric Sch­nei­der­man, who was among the state of­fi­cials who filed the law­suit, said the EPA’s de­lay vi­o­lates the Clean Air Act.

“Yet again the Trump EPA has cho­sen to put pol­luters be­fore the health of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Sch­nei­der­man said. “By il­le­gally block­ing these vi­tal clean air pro­tec­tions, Ad­min­is­tra­tor Pruitt is en­dan­ger­ing the health and safety of mil­lions.”

Ground-level ozone can cause se­ri­ous breath­ing prob­lems among sen­si­tive groups of peo­ple, con­tribut­ing to thou­sands of pre­ma­ture deaths each year.

New York was joined in the case by California, Con­necti­cut, Delaware, Illi­nois, Iowa, Maine, Mas­sachusetts, Min­nesota, New Mex­ico, Ore­gon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Is­land, Ver­mont, and Wash­ing­ton, and the District of Columbia.

EPA spokes­woman Enesta Jones said the agency does not com­ment on pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

Pruitt, the for­mer at­tor­ney general of Ok­la­homa, has charged ahead with ef­forts to weaken, block or de­lay a wide ar­ray of stricter pol­lu­tion and pub­lic health stan­dards fol­low­ing his ap­point­ment by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ear­lier this year.

Pruitt’s de­lay of the 2015 ozone stan­dards comes as Repub­li­cans in Con­gress are push­ing for a broader re­write of the rules.

More than a dozen ma­jor health or­ga­ni­za­tions op­pose the GOP-backed mea­sure, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Pe­di­atrics and the Amer­i­can Pub­lic Health As­so­ci­a­tion.

Ground-level ozone is cre­ated when com­mon pol­lu­tants emit­ted by cars, power plants, oil re­finer­ies, chem­i­cal plants and other sources re­act in the at­mos­phere to sun­light.

MICHAEL VIRTANEN / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­cans want to de­lay im­ple­men­ta­tion of Obama-era smog re­duc­tions. Above: The Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, W.Va.

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