Roy Cooper, the state's attorney general, took a necessary step last week when he made clear his intention to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unless it addresses potential violations of the Clean Air Act by groups in other states.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, which Cooper also plans to sue, and other government agencies in nearby states should be held accountable for evidence that coal-fired power plants in those states are contributing to air pollution in North Carolina.
Cooper is acting at long last on a lingering problem - the persistently poor air quality in North Carolina. And rightly so.
Poor air quality has had a severely detrimental effect on N.C. public health and the state's economy.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, an environmental advocacy group, is also considering a lawsuit against the EPA on behalf of N.C. Environmental Defense. The center states on its Web site that almost 2,000 North Carolinians die from exposure to power-plant emissions each year.