Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

New York, five other states sue EPA seeking action on smog

October 7, 2016

As published by the Albany Times Union on October 6, 2016.

New York and five other states are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try to force it to take action on pollution control in “upwind” states from which smog blows into “downwind” states like New York.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said Thursday that the states are seeking to have nine states added to the “Ozone Transport Region” under the Clean Air Act. The designation requires that states within the region act together to reduce smog pollution.

The Ozone Region currently includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C. The upwind states that the lawsuit seeks to have added include Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. The contention is that those states contribute to ozone standard violations within the downwind Ozone Region.

New York and other Northeastern states submitted a petition in December 2013 asking that the EPA add the nine states to the region. The states contend that the EPA was required to act on the petition within 18 months under the Clean Air Act, but the EPA has yet to act.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont have signed onto the lawsuit with New York.

“States upwind of New York that don’t take adequate responsibility for their pollution shift the cost and public health burdens of this pollution onto New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Our coalition has waited almost three years for EPA to decide on whether it will use its legal authority to require upwind states to stem their contribution to the smog pollution. As we have waited, the health of millions of New Yorkers has continued to be threatened. Today, we are suing to force long-overdue action by EPA on this important petition.”

The EPA will review the petition and respond, a spokesperson said by email.