Tuesday, January 28, 2014

At Long Last, EPA Reaches Milestone in Review of National Smog Standard

Here is an action that is long overdue:  At long last, the US EPA is about to show some progress in its much-delayed review of national air quality standards for smog—you remember, President Obama declared several years ago that EPA would complete action on this issue in 2013

The following notice on this is slated to appear in tomorrow’s Federal Register:

 This is far from final action, of course.  But it is a significant milestone.  EPA will be releasing new draft exposure, risk and policy assessments.  These are intended to reflect our increased knowledge of the dangers of ozone compared to what was known when the more recent Bush administration set a standard of 75 parts per billion in 2008.
You will recall that former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson tried to reduce the standard to 70.  But the White House stopped her dead in her tracks after a lot of industry squawking.  The White House did a virtual soft shoe act, claiming this was no big deal since EPA would quickly revisit the issue.

The White House promised in 2011 that EPA would re-visit this in 2013.  In fact, the President said the EPA review would “result in the reconsideration of the standard in 2013” which I think most readers would interpret as a final decision (he didn’t say “proposed reconsideration”)  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/02/statement-president-ozone-national-ambient-air-quality-standards

 Some might call that a flat out lie.  Within days, the White House starting saying, oh, he meant to say the proposal would be in 2013.   And, of course, that didn’t happen either.

This new material emerges only days after the American Lung Association, Sierra Club, NRDC and EDF urged a federal court to compel EPA to follow the Clean Air Act and make a final decision on the ozone standard by October 2015. http://www.lung.org/press-room/press-releases/advocacy/epa-needs-to-end-ozone-delay.html

 There is no doubt that the current standard is too weak to protect public health.

In a preliminary review of the “new science” and the agency’s career staff concluded almost a year ago that the evidence is stronger now than before about the need for a tougher standard. http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/isa/recordisplay.cfm?deid=247492

 EPA’s outside science advisers will review this new material in late March. https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-01723.pdf




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