States ap­peal EPA de­lay of stricter air-qual­ity rules

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - As­so­ci­ated press

At­tor­neys gen­eral from 15 states, in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia, filed a le­gal chal­lenge on 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 District of Columbia 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 stud­ied and re­con­sid­ered 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 Atty. Gen. Eric Sch­nei­der­man, who was among the state of­fi­cials who filed the law­suit, said the EPA’s de­lay vi­o­lated 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.”

Cal­i­for­nia Atty. Gen. Xavier Be­cerra re­called the days be­fore many clean-air pro­tec­tions.

“Too many chil­dren in our state have de­vel­oped asthma and other pre­ventable res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions that re­sult from air pol­lu­tion,” Be­cerra said in a news re­lease. “I grew up in Sacra­mento know­ing that I could drink clean wa­ter and breathe clean air. But in those days in Los An­ge­les, how many peo­ple my age can say the same thing? How many days be­gan with smog alerts? How many kids grew up with asthma that could have been pre­vented? That’s why I’m tak­ing ac­tion against the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to­day.”

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 did 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 Trump this year.

Pruitt’s de­lay of the 2015 ozone stan­dards comes as Re­pub­li­cans in Congress are push­ing for a broader rewrit­ing of the rules. A House bill ap­proved last month seeks to de­lay im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rules for at least eight years. The mea­sure has not been brought to a vote in the Se­nate.

More than a dozen ma­jor health or­ga­ni­za­tions op­pose the GOP-backed mea­sure, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Med­i­cal Assn., the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics and the Amer­i­can Pub­lic Health Assn. The head of the Amer­i­can Lung Assn. called the in­dus­try-backed bill a “di­rect as­sault” on the right of Amer­i­cans to breathe healthy air.

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.

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