State wins smog suit against EPA

Or­dered to re­duce drifts

Connecticut Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Cum­mings

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency was or­dered to re­duce smog that drifts into the North­east from Mid­west­ern states in a U.S. District Court rul­ing Wed­nes­day that sided with Con­necti­cut and New York.

“The Clean Air Act pro­tects the peo­ple of Con­necti­cut from other states’ pol­lu­tion, and the EPA is ob­li­gated to en­force these com­mon­sense air qual­ity stan­dards,” Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy said.

The law­suit, filed by Con­necti­cut and New York State in Jan­uary, al­leged the EPA failed to per­form its duty un­der the Good Neigh­bor Pro­vi­sion of the fed­eral Clean Air Act for 2008 ozone stan­dards.

The suit claimed that in­ad­e­quate air pol­lu­tion laws in states such as Penn­syl­va­nia and Ohio re­quired the EPA to take steps to re­duce the im­pact on down­wind states such as Con­necti­cut.

Smog from coal-fired elec­tric plants in Mid­west­ern states is car­ried by pre­vail­ing winds into the North­east, caus­ing “bad air” days in the sum­mer and harm­ing the health of res­i­dents, the suit al­leged.

“As a down­wind state, our res­i­dents have suf­fered for too long from other states’ lax clean-air stan­dards,” Mal­loy said. “The EPA’s re­cent fail­ure to hold up­wind states ac­count­able is not ac­cept­able. “

An EPA spokesman said in a state­ment that the agency is work­ing on a plan to ad­dress “good neigh­bor” obli­ga­tions re­lated to ozone gas.

“As we have al­ready pub­licly an­nounced, we in­tend to pro­pose by the end of June, and fi­nal­ize by De­cem­ber, an ac­tion that will ad­dress any re­main­ing good neigh­bor obli­ga­tions re­lated to the 2008 ozone stan­dard for these and other states,” EPA said.

Con­necti­cut has long main­tained that ozone pol­lu­tion has made it im­pos­si­ble for the state to meet fed­eral clean air stan­dards. State of­fi­cials say the ozone also im­pacts eco­nomic devel­op­ment and the health of res­i­dents.

Chris Col­libee, a spokesman for the state Depart­ment of En­ergy and Envi- ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, said the EPA’s Fed­eral Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plan will not pro­vide a “full rem­edy” to the prob­lem of in­ter­state pol­lu­tion.

“Con­necti­cut be­lieves it will con­tinue to vi­o­late the ozone na­tional am­bi­ent air qual­ity stan­dard and force DEEP to chal­lenge the FIP,” Col­libee said.

But Col­libee stressed the le­gal vic­tory is good news for the state.

“This is the out­come we hoped for and is a credit to the at­tor­ney gen­eral of­fices in Con­necti­cut and New York State,” Col­libee said. “This will hope­fully re­sult in much needed emis­sion re­duc­tions in the named up­wind states.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ge­orge Jepsen said the court’s de­ci­sion is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

“Con­necti­cut suf­fers from air qual­ity prob­lems due to pol­lu­tion sources in other states that are out of our con­trol,” Jepsen said. “Un­der the Clean Air Act, the EPA has a duty to take ac­tion when up­wind states do not meet cer­tain air qual­ity stan­dards and, in this case, the EPA clearly failed to do so.”

Jepsen added “we are grat­i­fied by the district court’s rul­ing in this mat­ter, and we will con­tinue to work with our part­ners in New York to hold EPA ac­count­able on this and other mat­ters where it has not met its le­gal obli­ga­tions.”

David How­ells / Getty Images / Corbis via Getty Images

A coal-fired power sta­tion in Cheshire, Ohio.

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