Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have some of the worst ground-level ozone levels in the country, and PG photothe state had been part of lawsuits defending the EPA's attempts to regulate it. But the Corbett administration quietly dropped the state's legal support early last month, Don Hopey reports today.

(UPDATE: You'll never guess who else is backing away from EPA pollution standards: Barack Obama.)

Here's an explanation from the spokeswoman for state's Department of Environmental Protection:

"[Pennsylvania] was only one of however many parties in the litigation and the litigation will continue," Ms. Gresh said. "While we will follow its progress, continued participation in the lawsuit would divert staff time from our core priorities and needs. We consider litigation an option of last resort and weigh our involvement in such cases carefully."

In response to a question about whether the DEP and the Corbett administration still supported the tougher federal controls on ozone-creating emissions, Ms. Gresh wrote, "Litigation isn't the only way to get things done. Just because DEP is not involved in litigation does not mean we don't think air quality is important. Of course, improving the commonwealth's air quality is a major part of our mission and our Bureau of Air Quality works daily to do just that."

Photo: Danika Evans, 8, plays in her front yard with GenOn Energy's Elrama power plant in the background. The plant is considered a major source of pollution in the area. An electric power research group acknowledges that there are health effects from air pollution. Robin Rombach/PG

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