Six U.S. states sue Trump's EPA over interstate smog pollution rule

FILE PHOTO: A helicopter flies over the Hudson River with One World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan in the background, on a hazy day in New York City, December 6, 2015. REUTERS/Rickey Rogers/File Photo

(Reuters) - Six Northeastern U.S. states and New York City have sued the Trump administration over its refusal to toughen smog restrictions in industrial states that blow pollution across their borders, officials said on Thursday.

The lawsuit is the latest of several filed by Democratic-led or -leaning states challenging U.S. President Donald Trump’s environmental policies, many of which are aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on business.

At issue is an update to the “Good Neighbor Provision” of the Clean Air Act, a requirement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) step in when smog emissions from states prevent their downwind neighbors from meeting federal smog health standards. The provision was introduced by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

Last month the EPA finalized a rule rejecting that update, arguing it was not needed.

New York City and the six states - New York, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts - this week asked a judge to declare the EPA’s move unlawful, according to documents filed in a Washington, D.C. appeals court.

“Over two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air due to smog pollution,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

“Trump’s EPA is ignoring the Clean Air Act and refuses to require reductions in the pollution largely responsible for this serious public health risk.”

EPA officials were not immediately available for comment.

Last year, New York and Connecticut sued to require the EPA to implement plans to reduce smog from “upwind” states, which include Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Grant McCool