Obama Tells EPA to Withdraw Its Proposal to Lower Ozone NAAQS

In a statement released today, President Obama has announced that he has requested that EPA withdraw the draft National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone.   The statement is in response to a draft final rule EPA submitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, (OIRA) for review in July 2011.

“… after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.”  – Statement by the President on the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards

The EPA’s draft rule proposed to lower the current standard of 75ppb set by the Bush administration in 2008. This standard is higher than what was suggested as safe by the EPA’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC).  EPA proposed to lower the standard to between 60 and 70ppb.

Under the Clean Air Act, (CAA) NAAQS must be reviewed every five years. Since they were last reviewed in 2008 EPA is required to review the NAAQS again in 2013.

In a letter addressed to EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, OIRA Administrator, Cass Sunstein explains the President’s decision saying, “finalizing a new standard now is not mandatory and could produce needles uncertainty.”   The letter goes on to explain that the feared uncertainty arises out of the possibility that even newer standards could closely follow any standards EPA sets in 2011.

Despite the President’s announcement, we may still see a new ozone standard before the CAA mandated 2013 review.  The Courts may force the EPA to issue a new standard.  The American Lung Association, along with others, filed a motion on August 8, 2011 asking the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to order EPA to issue its final rule.

More information on this issue can be found on  Law and the Environment.

Written by: Elizabeth McGurk, Executive Editor for Development