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Maryland joins lawsuit against EPA

Maryland has joined seven other states in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to follow act on a request to curb air pollution from other states.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, states the EPA is not enforcing part of the Clean Air Act because it has not added several “upwind” states, whose pollution blows eastward toward the East Coast to a group of East Coast states that work together to curb pollution.

“Their continuing policy favors businesses over the health of people who breathe polluted air,” said Christine Tobar, a spokesperson for Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

In 2013, Maryland, along with other states in the lawsuit, asked the EPA administrator to add several mostly Midwestern states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia to the Ozone Transport Region, a group of East Coast states that work to reduce ozone pollution. In November, the EPA denied the request to add the additional states. Last week Maryland joined Delaware, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont in the lawsuit against the EPA.

Ground level ozone is often referred to as “smog,” and is a type of air pollutant emitted by cars, or factories. The Ozone Transport Regions was established under by the Clean Air Act to provide additional regulations and collaboration between states on the reduction of the ground level ozone. While ground-level ozone can cause negative health effects, the EPA said it based its decision on the idea that letting states regulate their own pollution is more effective than the federal process, which includes a lengthy public comment and review period. 

The recent lawsuit is one of several Maryland has joined against the EPA. In early December, Maryland joined a similar joint lawsuit against the EPA for failing to designate parts of the impacted by “unhealthy” levels of smog.

“Over and over again, the Trump EPA puts polluters before its responsibility to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading both lawsuits against the EPA.

Since the Maryland General Assembly granted the attorney general more autonomy to pursue lawsuits, Frosh has taken a number of public actions against the EPA. In September, Frosh announced that Maryland filed suit against the EPA for failing to enforce federal regulations on air pollution from power plants.

“Emissions from power plants in surrounding states pollute Maryland’s air and violate the law,” Frosh said. 

@neal_earley

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