(Washington, D.C. – November 27, 2019) Environmental Defense Fund, the Adirondack Council and Sierra Club want to help New York, New York City and New Jersey in their legal battle against EPA over dangerous smog-forming pollution from other states.
The groups filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last night asking to join the states’ lawsuit. The states turned to the courts after the Trump administration denied a New York petition for help under the Good Neighbor provisions of the Clean Air Act.
“Smog from upwind states is endangering the lives and health of families in New York and New Jersey. It’s both legally and morally wrong that EPA is refusing to help them,” said Environmental Defense Fund attorney Liana James. “The Good Neighbor provisions of the Clean Air Act exist so that downwind states are not left alone to struggle with deadly pollution from their neighbors.”
“The Adirondack Park is a national treasure that New York cannot protect on its own, and we stand in support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation and New York’s Attorney General in defense of the people and natural resources of the Adirondacks,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “We need EPA to order that the dirtiest coal-fired power plants upwind of us to turn on their summertime smog controls. Those pollution-control devices also protect the Adirondacks from acid rain. Since 2017, EPA has left us exposed when the law requires EPA to protect us. We have no choice but to sue and seek justice through the courts.”
“It’s past time for EPA to protect the millions of New York and New Jersey residents that continue to suffer from smog pollution originating in upwind states,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Josh Berman. “No child should have difficulty breathing because dirty upwind power plants and industrial sources would rather cut costs than install and run basic pollution-reducing controls.”
Smog is linked to premature deaths, hospitalizations, asthma attacks and long-term lung damage. States that are working to reduce smog are often undermined by the dirtier air that blows across their borders from coal plants and other sources in upwind states. An EDF analysis found that unhealthy smog levels affected 185 million Americans across 40 states during the first three-quarters of 2019 alone.
New York has struggled with cross-state air pollution from hundreds of sources in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. In March of 2018, New York asked EPA to find that pollution from the sources in those nine states are significantly interfering with its ability to meet our national health-based smog standards.
The Clean Air Act obligates EPA to safeguard downwind states against smog-forming pollution from coal-fired power plants and other sources in upwind states, but the Trump administration refused New York’s request for help. Last month, the state of New York, the city of New York, and the state of New Jersey filed a lawsuit challenging that refusal.
Trump’s EPA has also denied requests from Maryland and Delaware for help with dangerous border-crossing pollution. Both states have gone to court over those decisions. Environmental Defense Fund, the Adirondack Council and Sierra Club are also part of a coalition of health, environmental and community groups that joined that lawsuit in support of the states. New York and New Jersey are supporting Maryland and Delaware in that case as well.
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