Connecticut joins states suing EPA over pollution

December 27, 2017 GMT

A coalition of eight states, including Connecticut, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force it to control pollution from power plants in the Midwest.

The other states are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New York, whose state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is leading the lawsuit.

The suit takes issue with a Trump administration’s decision to allow nine upwind states to escape tighter smog requirements.

“Connecticut has stringent air quality laws and regulations, but Connecticut suffers from significant pollution and air quality issues because the state is downwind of out-of-state sources of pollution,” said Jaclyn M. Severance, a spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.


“Connecticut is a downwind state and much of our air quality is affected by the pollution produced by upwind states like Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana,” said Chris Collibee, a spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “The sad reality is that every power plant in the state could be forced to shut down during the summer months because of the pollution that blows in from the Midwest.”

This is not the first time that EPA actions — or inaction — have concerned Hartford. In March, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy sent a letter to Trump’s controversial EPA chief, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, blasting the agency’s preliminary decision to exempt nine states, most of which are in the Rust Belt, from tougher scrutiny of coal-fired power plants.

Those states, the governor wrote, should be held accountable for their adverse impact on the air quality in the Northeast.

In October 2016, six Northeastern states sued the EPA to compel the agency to add nine “upwind” states to its so-called “Ozone Transport Region.”

Those states were Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The states already in the OTR are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These states are required to submit plans and install a certain level of controls for pollutants that form ozone. The states outside the OTR don’t have to follow those requirements.

Connecticut leaders fear that the Trump’s administration, under pressure from U.S. automakers, will unwind Obama-era fuel efficiency standards and caps on tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide.

“Obviously, this is a guy (Pruitt) who was a sellout to fossil fuels to begin with and doesn’t mind polluting Connecticut’s air with (emissions) from Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania,” Malloy told reporters at the time.

EPA officials could not be reached on Wednesday for comment.

Hearst Connecticut Media writer Neil Vigdor contributed to this story.