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Litigation

IN BRIEF: Enviros say EPA dragging heels on 'good neighbor' smog provision

4 minute read

The sun reflects on downtown skyscrapers as it sets through the Los Angeles smog and haze, October 22, 2006. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)

  • EPA has missed deadlines to act on plans to curb ozone pollution

(Reuters) - A coalition of environmental groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco federal court on Wednesday, accusing it of failing to act on plans by about 32 states to toughen restrictions on smog that blows across their borders.

The coalition, including the Sierra Club and Downwinders at Risk, accuses the EPA of violating the Clean Air Act's (CAA) so-called good neighbor provision by missing statutory deadlines to approve or disapprove plans by states, from Montana to New York, to curb ground-level ozone pollution traveling across state lines.

EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said: "Because this is pending litigation, EPA has no additional information to share."

The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys with Earthjustice, say that unless EPA acts on the plans, states may not correct inadequate ones. The states completed their plans to limit ozone pollution in 2019, as required by the good neighbor provision whose goal is to keep states from contributing to such pollution in downwind states, according to the complaint.

The EPA's strengthening of national ozone standards in 2015 triggered, under the CAA, the states' requirement to prepare the plans.

The CAA also requires the EPA to greenlight complete plans, if they are sufficiently stringent, or reject them within a year of their submission.

The green groups say that following that timeline, the EPA should have done so last year.

"However, EPA has not finalized approval or disapproval of any of the 32 states' Good Neighbor plans," the complaint says.

Ozone is a primary constituent of smog which is harmful to human health, especially respiratory function.

The case is Downwinders At Risk v. Regan, U.S. District Court for the California Northern District, No. 3:21-cv-03551.

For Downwinders At Risk et al: Neil Gormley of Earthjustice

RELATED COVERAGE:

Enviros sue EPA to compel Denver-area smog pollution plan https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-environment-idUSL1N2M12XM

Biden EPA toughens smog curbs at power plants to protect 'downwind' states https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-epa-smog/biden-epa-toughens-smog-curbs-at-power-plants-to-protect-downwind-states-idUSKBN2B803I

Court vacates three Trump-era smog pollution measures https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-environment-lawsuit-idUSL1N2K502S

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