Pennsylvania, Delaware among states suing EPA

Written by Dave Davies/WHYY | Aug 2, 2017 5:44 AM

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf announce that the state has joined a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, which has delayed implementing rules to reduce smog. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

(Philadelphia) -- At a news conference on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro have announced they're joining 14 other states in suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to delay the implementation of new, tougher standards for ozone in the air.

The state's air isn't as nasty as it used to be, but the EPA determined under the Obama administration that tougher standards are needed.

Shapiro said you don't have to be a scientist to notice that.

"There were 97 days of elevated pollution levels in Philadelphia back in 2015," he said. "That was the second-highest number in the northeastern section of the United States."

The EPA was supposed to identify areas that don't meet the new standards in October, so state and local officials could begin work to improve their air.

But new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced in June the agency would delay that step for a year.


The EPA press release announcing the decision said the EPA is "giving states more time to develop air quality plans and EPA is looking at providing greater flexibility to states as they develop their plans."

It noted that Pruitt was establishing an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force "to develop additional flexibilities for states to comply with the ozone standard."

It's not clear why that would necessitate the designation of areas that don't meet the standards, and Shapiro said the EPA has all the data it needs to complete that determination.

The Trump administration has made it clear it's determined to free businesses from what the president regards as burdensome and unnecessary regulations.

Wolf said he spent most of his career as a businessman and what businesses want are regulations that are easy to understand and fairly administered. He said the new standards will be good for business.

"If we have clean air, we have fewer days of absenteeism. We have fewer people that get sick. We have lower costs, and we have a better work environment," Wolf said.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to review the EPA's decision on the ozone regulations.

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency won't comment on pending litigation.

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