15 states take on EPA over smog rule delay
Court asked to stop agency’s extension of ozone deadline.
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.
Republicans want to delay implementation of Obama-era smog reductions. Above: The Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, W.Va.