A.G. James sues Trump E.P.A. over smog

Letitia James, the New York State attorney general.

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH |
State Attorney General Letitia James announced she had filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to continue combating air pollution.

“Over two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air due to smog pollution,” James said. “Yet, Trump’s E.P.A. is ignoring the Clean Air Act and refuses to require reductions in the pollution largely responsible for this serious public health risk.”

The part of the Clean Air Act that is being ignored, according to James, is the “Good Neighbor” provision. This requires the E.P.A. to step in and reduce the flow of interstate air pollution from “upwind” states to their “downwind” neighbors, so that the latter can maintain federal air-quality standards.

Last year, Trump’s E.P.A. decided on a “close-out” on the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, claiming that no further emissions reductions from power plants are needed for upwind states to meet their Good Neighbor Provision obligations.

However, James’s office, in a statement, said, in part, “Smog’s serious, ongoing health threat in New York is largely due to the interstate transport of smog pollution.”

The lawsuit asks the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit to vacate the rule. The A.G. is challenging the “close-out” decision as “unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.”

Joining James on the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. New York City is also a plaintiff on the litigation.

Last year, New York and Connecticut sued to require the E.P.A. to implement plans to cut smog from upwind states impacting their air quality, including Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

According to an E.P.A. spokesperson, the agency is declining comment due to the litigation.

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