Gov. Pataki said Wednesday that the state plans to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in hopes of forcing it to place tougher controls on smog drifting into New York from other states.
Pataki's announcement came a mere five days after the EPA announced a new plan to try to reduce smog emissions in Midwestern and Southern states, which drift into New York State and are the main cause of its smog problems.
"The federal government has begun to take steps to provide relief on air pollution to downwind states such as New York, but critical issues remain unresolved," Pataki said in a speech in Syracuse. "Until the EPA takes action on our Clean Air petition, New Yorkers will not be satisfied that the federal government is doing all it can to protect their health."
The state filed that petition with the EPA in August, asking that the agency force those other states and particular polluters to reduce their smog emissions. The law calls for EPA to respond to that petition within 60 days, but EPA failed to do that.
"By not moving to address our concerns in a timely fashion, the EPA has been fiddling while New Yorkers' lungs burn," State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco said. "The EPA must realize we are prepared to go to court to protect the health and well-being of our state's residents from preventable ozone pollution."
The petition asks the EPA to go beyond what it did last week to control smog in Midwestern and Southern states that have not forced modern pollution controls on their coal-fired power plants. The petition calls for pollution in those states to be reduced by the year 2002, while the new EPA anti-smog targets would not take effect until 2004.
In addition, the state's petition -- identical to petitions filed by several other Northeastern states -- would force additional controls on emissions that contribute to acid rain. The EPA anti-pollution targets announced last week would not address that issue at all.
David Ryan, the EPA's spokesman on clean air issues, did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.