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Source: Express Newsline

States Sue Trump Administration over EPA Decision, Pennsylvania Included

Posted: August 3, 2017
Originally Published: August 3, 2017

Attorneys general from Pennsylvania and 14 other states 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 are hoping to force EPA and Pruitt to stick to the schedule as laid out by the Clean Air Act.

State air pollution regulators could not be reached for comment, but the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies previously said the one-year delay could be beneficial for states as they wait for the EPA to develop the tools necessary for local air pollution regulators to show they have met the standards.

The coalition of attorneys general in 16 states is challenging Pruitt's one-year delay in designating areas with unhealthy levels of smog as violating the requirements of the Clean Air Act, and as "arbitrary and capricious", according to the news release. They argue that the stricter rules put an undue economic burden on industry.

ME on Tuesday joined 14 other states in a lawsuit seeking to force the federal government to adhere to a deadline laid out in the Clean Air Act.

The EPA set the updated national ambient air quality standards for ozone at 70 parts per billion in 2015.

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said, "The science linking smog to adverse health impacts is clear and definitive".

Still, the EPA's statement said Pruitt may at some point once again use his "delay authority and all other authority legally available" to ensure regulations "are founded on sound policy and the best available information". The Clean Air Act requires the agency to publicly identify within two years - in this case, by October 1, 2017 - which areas of the country are in compliance with new standards. In the case of the 2015 smog standards, the EPA was required to issue attainment or non-attainment designations by October 1, 2017.

The Environmental Protection Agency previously announced plans to postpone the October 1 deadline for determining which regions of the country meet or violate the updated ozone standards, citing the lack of adequate data to make those determinations. The deadlines for submitting implementation plans - and for ensuring that air quality standards are met within designated areas - are both directly keyed to the date of EPA designations. In fact, the EPA conservatively estimated that meeting the new smog standards would result in net annual public health benefits of up to $4.5 billion starting in 2025 (not including California). A House bill approved last month seeks to delay implementation of the 2015 rules at least eight years.

Pennsylvania and NY were joined in the case by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia. Environmental groups say the bill will weaken the Clean Air Act, including switching the EPA's mandated review of ozone from every five years to every 10. The measure has not yet been brought to a vote in the Senate.

A federal court Wednesday allowed a handful of states controlled by Democratic administrations to help defend the Obama administration's ozone pollution rule in an ongoing lawsuit. Last month, the states asked to be upgraded to intervenors from friend-of-the-court status, which will allow the states to actively defend the rule and file appeals if the EPA does not, Politico reported.