Sarah Hamby / ctnewsjunkie file photo

HARTFORD, CT — A federal appeals court in Washington D.C. sided with Connecticut, five states and New York City when it agreed the Environmental Protection Agency has the power to get upwind states to control their smog.

In January, the multistate coalition, led by New York, filed a lawsuit that challenged the EPA’s 2018 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule “Close-Out” for failing to require any further control of smog pollution in states upwind of Connecticut.

A three-judge panel in the District of Columbia sent the case back to the EPA Tuesday for a resolution.

“This is a major victory for downwind states like Connecticut who rely on strong interstate regulation to protect our air quality,” Attorney General Tong said in a press release. “We sit at the end of the tailpipe of the nation’s exhaust fumes, and without EPA action we are at the mercy of our country’s heaviest polluters. Hopefully the EPA will now finally comply with the Clean Air Act and compel action to protect public health.”

According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, more than 90 percent of ozone levels in southwest Connecticut and more than 80 percent of ozone levels in some remaining parts of the state result from pollution that originates in areas located out of Connecticut’s jurisdiction and control. 

Readings at Connecticut air monitoring stations consistently show that that air entering Connecticut already exceeds ozone standards on days when quality here fails to meet federal standards, subjecting several million Connecticut residents to unhealthy levels of air pollution.

The EPA found that between March and September 2019 Connecticut had 21 days when ozone concentrations were above levels considered healthy. It was 23 days in 2018.

Connecticut filed a similar action against the EPA in 2016.