EPA Ordered to Act on Plans to Cut Spread of Ozone Pollution

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was ordered by a judge to act on plans to limit the ozone pollution from five states upwind of New York and Connecticut, a victory for the Democratic-led states pressing President Donald Trump’s administration to enforce environmental regulations.

The agency originally published revised air-quality standards for ozone in 2008 and found in July 2015 that 24 states had failed to submit plans to satisfy the requirements. The EPA had until August 2017 to issue plans for the states that defaulted, but failed to meet the deadline.

Connecticut and New York sued the EPA in January seeking a court order requiring the agency to implement plans to limit ozone emissions from Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

In ordering the agency to come up with plans for the defaulting states by December, U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl in Manhattan found Connecticut and New York have shown that they will continue to be harmed by the failure to implement the plans.

The judge said New York and Connecticut are attempting to "protect their citizens from the harmful effects of the high level of dangerous pollutants in their states caused by the pollutants coming from the defaulting states."

The EPA said it intends to propose an action by the end of June that will address any remaining "good neighbor" obligations related to the 2008 ozone standard for these and other states and finalize it by December.

“As many as two in three New Yorkers are breathing unhealthy levels of smog," New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement. "The court’s decision is a major win for New Yorkers and our public health, forcing the Trump EPA to follow the law and act to address smog pollution blowing into New York from upwind states.”

The case is State of New York v. Pruitt, 18-cv-406, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

(An earlier version of this story corrected the spelling of the judge’s name.)

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