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New York sues Trump administration to enforce Clean Air Act

  • Published at 09:57 am January 17th, 2020
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Photo: AFP

More than two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air, New York Attorney General Letitia James says

New York and Connecticut have sued the Trump administration alleging that it failed to enforce the US Clean Air Act by allowing five neighbouring states to pump unhealthy pollution levels into their states.

The lawsuit filed in US District Court in Manhattan on Thursday, asking the court to compel President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency to protect states that are downwind from other states with excessive air pollution.

“More than two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air, yet the Trump administration continues to ignore the smog caused by upwind air pollution,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. 

“We will not allow the federal government to trivialize the law, and minimalize the importance of clean air for millions of New Yorkers,” she added.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Because of New York’s strict regulations, the state has among the lowest emission levels of smog-causing nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, however, some 13 million people, or 65% of the population, still breathe unhealthy levels of smog, James’ office said in a statement.

That happens in part because pollution from Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia is worsening the air quality in New York, the lawsuit claims.

The “Good Neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to intervene when upwind states fail to protect health standards in downwind states, New York said.

The lawsuit was filed on the same day New York led another lawsuit against the Trump administration, joining 13 other states, and the District of Columbia to stop a provision that could kick 700,000 people off food stamps.