Energy & Environment

Courts deal blow to EPA over Clean Air Act


Two separate courts ruled this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must enforce regulations that restrict states from emitting pollution that could cross borders into neighboring states.

U.S. district courts in Maryland and New York both ruled separately that EPA was derelict in its duty by not enforcing states to comply with the “Good Neighbor provision” under the Clean Air Act meant to address smog pollution. 

The New York court found that EPA failed to meet an August 2017 deadline that would begin the process of enforcing the law throughout states. The court’s judge ruled that EPA must take necessary steps to limit the smog that blows into New York and Connecticut from five surrounding states: Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan and Virginia.

The court set a Dec. 8 deadline for compliance.


“There is no reason why the EPA should not be required to follow the typical practice here, especially when they agreed it is feasible for them to do so,” the court wrote in its determination. “Given the prior violations of the statutory deadline by EPA, it is a reasonable exersise of the court’s equitable powers to require the EPA to do the minimal tasks it has agreed it can do to remedy its past violation of the statute.”

In Maryland, a similar verdict found that EPA must take a final action by Sept 15.

“The court notes that it does not grant the above extension lightly,” Maryland’s district court wrote in its verdict. “On the contrary, the court is troubled by EPA’s apparent unwillingness or inability to comply with its mandatory statuary duties within the timeline set by Congress.”

An EPA spokesperson said said the agency plans to propose a new action that will address the good neighbor policies in CAA by the end of the month.

“As we have already publicly announced, we intend to propose – by the end of June – and finalize – by December – an action that will address any remaining good neighbor obligations related to the 2008 ozone standard for these and other states,” the EPA said in a statement.

The Trump administration has pushed back against many Obama-era EPA policies they believe place undue burdens on the fossil fuel industry. It has taken strides to repeal the Clean Power Plan and has announced intent to rewrite clean car standards put in place under former President Obama.

Tags Clean Air Act Connecticut EPA Maryland New York Scott Pruitt

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