It seems New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman won’t stop filing lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency until it starts, well, protecting the environment. He filed another lawsuit Tuesday—which is one of more than 100 actions his office has taken against the administration (with at least 10 against the EPA) under President Donald Trump.
This lawsuit, filed in the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is suing the federal agency to ensure out-of-state smog doesn’t blow into the Northeast, hampering the health of residents in those states. New York isn’t the only state taking action; Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont joined Schneiderman.
Why? Because some states in the South and Midwest (like Virginia and Illinois) see wind patterns that often blow their ozone and pollution into Northeastern states like New York. With at least one in three New Yorkers exposed to smog, as the attorney general’s office says, the state is left to deal with their communities’ health impacts.
“Millions of New Yorkers are breathing unhealthy air as smog pollution continues to pour in from other states,” Schneiderman said, in a press release. “The federal government has a fundamental responsibility to act, yet the Trump EPA has abandoned its responsibilities—repeatedly failing to act to control smog pollution that jeopardizes New Yorkers’ health.”
Schneiderman is using the Clean Air Act to argue for the EPA to take action against these “upwind” states, as the suit describes them. The Clean Air Act designated these states as the Ozone Transport Region and requires that they control their ground-level ozone levels (which used to be notorious), but these states want nine others included, too, especially if outside emissions are flowing into their skies.
They’ve been trying to do so since 2013. This recent filing is actually an appeal to the Trump administration’s decision to deny the states’ petition. Though they filed it back in 2013—under former President Barack Obama—the EPA had until October 27, 2017, to approve or deny it. Obama might have ruled similarly, but Schneiderman’s got a personal battle going on with Trump, so this ruling means something else entirely under the new president.
Most legal actions New York has filed against Trump’s EPA have everything to do with clean air or clean water—and, in turn, health. Regardless of income or class, communities of color breathe the most smog already. Research has shown this.
When these key protections are ignored, their health is what’s most at risk.