Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Eric Schneiderman Leads Group of 14 Attorneys General in Lawsuit Against EPA’s Smog Protection Delay

August 2, 2017

As published by The New York Daily News, on August 2, 2017.

ALBANY — In his latest lawsuit against the Trump administration, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing over a minimum one-year delay in enacting tougher clean air standards pertaining to smog.

Schneiderman is leading a group of 14 states attorney general who signed on to the federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to delay implementation of the Obama administration’s 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards to Oct. 1, 2018.

Schneiderman called the decision by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to put off the regulation that would declare areas with unhealthy levels of smog are in violation of the Clean Air Act. States would then have to come up with plans to reduce air pollution in those areas.

“One in three New Yorkers are breathing dangerous levels of smog pollution pouring in from other states. Yet again the Trump EPA has chosen to put polluters before the health of the American people,” Schneiderman said. “By illegally blocking these vital clean air protections, Administrator Pruitt is endangering the health and safety of millions.”

The 2015 smog standards would particularly be beneficial to those most at-risk of breathing issues like children, seniors, and those with lung diseases like asthma, he said.

Among the states that signed on to the lawsuit are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

A Trump administration official couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

But in a June 6 letter to Gov. Cuomo announcing the one-year delay that was attached to the lawsuit, Pruitt explained “taking additional time is appropriate in order to consider completely all designation recommendations provided by state governors…and to rely fully on the most recent air quality data.”

Pruitt also said additional time will give the EPA time to complete its review of the 2015 ozone regulation, which is opposed by groups like the American Petroleum Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

He noted that since 1980, states have made significant program and investments cleaning up the air and that total emissions since then of the six principal air pollutants have dropped by 63% while ozone levels declined by 33%.

“I am committed to working with you and your local officials to effectively implement the ozone standard in a manner that is supportive of your air quality improvement efforts, without interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth,” Pruitt wrote.

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said in a statement that the “delaying attainment of standards for dangerous smog pollution will directly harm New Yorkers and is clearly an attempt to prioritize corporate interests over the public’s interest.”

She said the EPA “should be assessing the bottom line of their actions by their effectiveness in protecting the public, not the joy of corporate shareholders.”

Schneiderman has been part of a number of lawsuits against the Trump administration, including another one against the EPA for delaying a rule designed to protect against chemical accidents.