Eleven states have sued the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over delays in tightening air quality standards involving soot even as the Obama administration has come under intense opposition to the stricter regulations from industry and Republicans, who claim that these would lead to higher energy costs and hurt economic growth.
According to the lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, the new rules were ''vitally important to public health.''
According to the states, soot contributed to respiratory illness and heart disease and caused thousands of premature deaths a year. The states involved in the lawsuit are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
According to agency officials, the EPA continued to work on new standards.
According to New York attorney-general Eric Schneiderman, the lawsuit filed in US district court in Manhattan comes following the federal agency's failure to meet a statutory October deadline to revise soot standards.
Soot is produced by diesel vehicles and power plants and is known to be a factor in chronic respiratory disease, impaired lung function, heart disease and asthma.