15 states appeal EPA delay of stricter air-quality standards


WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorneys general from 15 states filed a legal challenge today over the Trump administration's delay of Obama-era rules reducing emissions of smog-causing air pollutants.

The states petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's extension of deadlines to comply with the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Pruitt announced in June he was extending the deadlines by at least one year while his agency studies and reconsiders the requirements. Several pro-business groups are opposed to the stricter rules, including the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who was among the state officials who filed the lawsuit, said EPA's delay violates the Clean Air Act.

"Yet again the Trump EPA has chosen to put polluters before the health of the American people," Schneiderman said. "By illegally blocking these vital clean air protections, Administrator Pruitt is endangering the health and safety of millions."

Ground-level ozone can cause serious breathing problems among sensitive groups of people, contributing to thousands of premature deaths each year.

New York was joined in the case by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, has charged ahead with efforts to weaken, block or delay a wide array of stricter pollution and public health standards after his appointment by the president earlier this year.

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