- More than a dozen states and several conservations groups have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failure to designate areas of the United States that have unhealthy levels of smog.
- Identifying areas with unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone is a required step under the Clean Air Act, prior to the EPA identifying reductions to the pollution that some say causes hundreds of deaths per year.
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led a coalition of 15 state attorneys general in filing the lawsuit. A separate lawsuit was also filed by conservation and consumer advocacy groups Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association.
In November, the EPA found that 85% of counties in the United States are in compliance with the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone.. But the agency declined to name those that were not in compliance — a move which would have launched a statutory requirement to reduce the pollution.
But while the Trump administration has been working to weaken environmental rules and energy restrictions, states and conservation groups are suing to force the federal government to carry out its legal responsibilities under current law.
“Over and over again, the Trump EPA puts polluters before its responsibility to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “By continuing to ignore its legal obligations to cut this dangerous pollution, the Trump EPA is turning a blind eye to public health – and the law.”
According to Schneiderman, more than 115 million Americans are breathing dangerous levels of smog pollution.Over the summer, Schneiderman and a coalition of state AGs sued the EPA for delaying the smog designations, and subsequently missing the statutory deadline.
According to the Attorneys General, areas EPA failed to designate include many densely populated areas that suffer from the highest levels of smog. More than half of the U.S. population lives in the undesignated areas, they say.
The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. One was filed by the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.
Conservation groups filed a separate suit. Those groups include Earthjustice, American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club.