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Source: Equilibrio Informativo

States Sue EPA for Delaying Clean Air Rules

BY PABLO NOVARRO

Posted: August 6, 2017
Originally Published: August 3, 2017

Governor Tom Wolf, along with Attorney General Josh Shapiro, announced a lawsuit was filed, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to delay implementing a rule to reduce levels of ground level ozone or smog.

According to the American Lung Association, over 115 million Americans, including more than 6.2 million people in IL, breathe harmful levels of smog, which often travels far distances from other states with less stringent clean air regulations.

Attorney General Schneiderman is joined in today's suit by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia. "EPA will continue to work with states, tribes, and local air agencies to help more areas of the country come into compliance".

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who was among the state officials who filed the lawsuit, said EPA's delay violates the Clean Air Act.

Ozone is the main ingredient in smog and is created when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds - both of which can come from auto exhaust and power plants - interact with sunlight.

"The science linking smog to adverse health impacts is clear and definitive".

The National Ambient Air Quality Standards adopted by EPA in 2015 reduced the allowed amount of ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. The Clean Air Act requires the agency, within two years after issuance of new or revised standards, to designate areas of the county that are in attainment or non-attainment with these public health and welfare standards. "The EPA should be assessing the bottom line of their actions by their effectiveness in protecting the public, not the joy of corporate shareholders", Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said in a statement. In the case of the 2015 smog standards, EPA was required to issue attainment or non-attainment designations by October 1, 2017. However, on June 28, 2017, the EPA published a notice delaying the deadline for the smog designations for one year to October 1, 2018.

For areas designated as in non-attainment for the standards, states must adopt implementation plans - a collection of actions a state will undertake to reduce pollution in order to ensure standards will be met in those areas. 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.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed a bill last month created to delay implementation of the Obama administration's ground-level ozone rule.

An EPA report released Wednesday shows that in the 45 years since passage of the Clean Air Act, emissions of six harmful pollutants declined by a combined 73 percent even as USA economic output tripled.

The states, led by California, had asked the court last month to let them become intervenors in the case.