Connecticut sues Trump over smog
HARTFORD — Connecticut has joined five other states and New York City in suing the Trump administration over smog that drifts into the region from Midwestern factories and other sources.
Attorney General William Tong filed the suit to force the Environmental Protection Agency to comply with federal law by requiring further controls on smog pollution.
“Connecticut sits at the end of the tailpipe of the nation’s exhaust fumes, with severe consequences for public health,” Tong said.
“States like Connecticut ... downwind of some of our country’s heaviest polluters need the protection of strong interstate ozone pollution regulation,” Tong said. “Trump EPA’s failure to comply with the Clean Air Act violates federal law and endangers the health of Connecticut families.”
The coalition is challenging the EPA’s 2018 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule “Close-Out” for failing to require further control of smog pollution in states upwind of Connecticut despite the “serious, on-going health threat in Connecticut.”
Joining Connecticut are New York Attorney General Letitia James are the attorneys general of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the City of New York.
The suit is not the first legal action Connecticut and other northeastern states have filed over smog wafting eastward from states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Last year, Connecticut and New York State won a federal lawsuit against the EPA to reduce smog that drifts into the Northeast.
The lawsuit, filed jointly by Connecticut and New York in January, alleged that EPA failed to perform its mandatory duty under the Good Neighbor Provision of the federal Clean Air Act for 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
A U.S District Court sided with the state’s argument and ordered the EPA to develop a plan to control interstate pollution. The EPA is challenging the ruling and is continuing efforts to weaken Clean Air Act provisions as part of an effort to reduce “burdensome regulation.”
The litigation claimed lax air pollution standards in states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio require the EPA to take steps to reduce the impact on downwind states such as Connecticut.
Smog from coal-fired electric plants in a variety of Midwestern states is carried by prevailing winds into the Northeast, causing “bad air” days in the summer and harming the health of residents, the suit alleged.
The state has also threatened to sue the EPA over a proposed rollback of auto emission standards now in the works.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says that more than 90 percent of the ozone levels in southwest Connecticut and more than 80 percent of ozone levels in some remaining parts of the state are the result of pollution that originates in areas outside of Connecticut’s jurisdiction and control.
Readings at Connecticut air monitoring stations consistently show that that air entering the state exceeds ozone standards, subjecting several million residents to unhealthy levels of air pollution.
The state issues alerts to warn residents about bad air days. Those with breathing ailments, young children and the elderly people are advised to stay indoors.
The Midwestern smog also prevents Connecticut from meeting federal air quality standards, despite efforts to minimize pollution within the state’s borders.
“Connecticut must rely on other states to develop and implement plans to reduce air pollution, and upon EPA to act as a backstop when they fail to do so, as EPA is required to do under the Clean Air Act,” Tong said in a statement.
EPA has failed in its responsibility,” he said.