January 16, 2020 / 7:52 PM / a month ago

New York sues Trump administration to enforce Clean Air Act

FILE PHOTO: A tugboat passes the midtown Manhattan skyline on the Hudson River in the early morning in New York City, New York U.S., November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - New York and Connecticut sued the Trump administration on Thursday, alleging it has failed to enforce the U.S. Clean Air Act and allowed five neighboring states to pump unhealthy levels of pollution into their states.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan asks 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.”

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, but some 13 million people, or 65 percent 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.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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