New York Wins Lawsuit Against Trump's EPA’s Inaction on Smog Pollution

NEW YORK – Following a decision by a federal court to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rejection of New York’s lawsuit to curb smog pollution from upwind sources, Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos issued the follow responses:  

“Today’s ruling is a major win for public health and the environment in New York. For too long, EPA has ignored its legal responsibility to hold upwind polluters accountable for smog that travels across their borders, and as a result, millions of New Yorkers have been breathing unhealthy air,” said Attorney General James. “My office will continue to see to it that Trump’s EPA follows the law and fulfills its obligation to downwind states.” 

“Today’s federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning EPA’s rejection of New York’ interstate ozone petition sends yet another clear message to Trump’s EPA — quit being cryptic, stop moving the goal posts, and do your job,” said Commissioner Seggos. “New York has some of the nation’s most stringent air quality rules to protect our communities, and every day we are leading the fight to protect both air quality and combat climate change with historic investments in renewable energy. But we can’t stop pollution at our borders. New York’s air quality is improving, however, EPA’s repeated failure to require upwind states to limit their pollution means our state suffers the consequences. So while EPA keeps rolling back limits on pollution from power plants, cars, and trucks, New York will keep rolling out the nation's strongest program to reduce carbon pollution and safeguard the health of our communities. We thank our strong partners in the New York Attorney General’s Office for bringing this petition against EPA.” 

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has directed EPA to do its job in addressing upwind pollution emissions that impede New York’s ability to attain and maintain health standards for smog.

In October 2019, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA for its failure to abide by its legal responsibility under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to ensure upwind sources of pollution do not continue to create unhealthy ground-level ozone pollution (commonly known as smog) in New York.  

The lawsuit follows EPA’s denial of a petition filed by New York in March 2018, pursuant to the “Good Neighbor” obligations set forth under Section 126(b) of CAA. That section of CAA establishes EPA’s legal responsibility to ensure the control of upwind sources that contribute to non-attainment of federal air quality standards in downwind states. The petition asked EPA to make a finding that the emissions of approximately 350 sources in upwind sources violated the good neighbor provision and, upon making such a finding, ensure that these emissions are reduced as necessary to allow New York to attain and maintain health standards for smog.