New Jersey has withdrawn from a 2008 lawsuit brought against the Environmental Protection Agency over delays in implementing air quality standards.
The lawsuit, Mississippi v. EPA, was originally brought by several states and industry groups that said the standard shouldn't be strengthened. New Jersey joined other states in arguing the standard should be set at a stricter level, as recommended by scientific advisers.
In September, Obama overruled scientific advisers and scrapped a clean-air regulation intended to reduce smog. A new standard is anticipated by July 2014.
The lawsuit was intended to force the EPA to set new standards for ozone, which contributes to smog. The state withdrew from the lawsuit on Friday because that's already happening, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said Monday.
Spokesman Larry Ragonese said it was no longer worth putting legal resources into the lawsuit for that reason. Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, echoed that point in a statement, saying it "makes sense to follow the Obama administration's lead on this."
Christie's office also released a fact sheet touting its record of pursuing legal action against out-of-state polluters that affect the state's air quality.
"Governor Christie will continue to act aggressively in this way to protect New Jerseyans," Drewniak said.
But Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, lashed out at Christie for withdrawing. Tittel said Christie is more interested in siding with polluters and special interest groups than protecting public health.
And he noted New Jersey withdrew from the lawsuit -- supported by New York, Maryland and other states -- just before Earth Day.
"By pulling out he undermines their lawsuit," Tittel said.