In a statement released this morning, President Barack Obama said he has requested that US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson withdraw the agency’s draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) rulemaking.
In January 2010, EPA proposed strengthening the NAAQS for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, and said it planned to issue final standards by 31 August 2010. (Earlier post.) The proposed revisions were based on scientific evidence about ozone and its effects on people and the environment, and resulted from a reconsideration of the primary and secondary ozone standards set at 0.075 ppm in 2008.
|National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)|
|The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for wide-spread pollutants from numerous and diverse sources considered harmful to public health and the environment.|
|The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. Primary standards set limits to protect public health; secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against visibility impairment, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings. The Clean Air Act requires periodic review of the science upon which the standards are based and the standards themselves.|
|EPA has set NAAQS for six principal pollutants (“criteria pollutants”): carbon monoxide (CO); lead (Pb); nitrogen dioxide (NO2); ozone (O3); particulate matter (PM); and sulfur dioxide (SO2).|
In January 2010, EPA proposed strengthening the 8-hour primary ozone standard, designed to protect public health, to a level within the range of 0.060-0.070 parts per million (ppm). EPA also proposed a distinct cumulative, seasonal secondary standard, designed to protect sensitive vegetation and ecosystems, including forests, parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. EPA proposed to set the level of the secondary standard within the range of 7-15 ppm-hours.
In EPA’s analysis of the regulatory impact, the costs of reducing ozone to 0.070 ppm would range from an estimated $19 billion to $25 billion per year in 2020. For a tougher standard of 0.060 ppm, the costs would range from $52 billion to $90 billion.
Offsetting that, the value of mortality benefits and other health improvements of reducing ozone to 0.070 ppm would range from an estimated $13 billion to $37 billion per year in 2020. For a standard of 0.060 ppm, the value of benefits would range from $35 billion to $100 billion.
As part of EPA’s review of the science, Administrator Jackson asked the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) in December 2010 for further interpretation of the epidemiological and clinical studies they used to make their recommendations on the standards. To ensure EPA’s decision is grounded in the best science, EPA said it would review the input CASAC provides before the new standard is selected.
In July 2011, Administrator Jackson announced that she was fully committed to finalizing EPA's reconsideration of the Clean Air Act health standard for ground level ozone, and noted that the reconsideration is currently going through interagency review led by OMB (Office of Management and Budget). EPA said it would finalize its recommendation following completion of this final step, bout would not issue the final rule on 29 July, the date the agency had targeted.
Over the last two and half years, my administration, under the leadership of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has taken some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act four decades ago to protect our environment and the health of our families from air pollution. From reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution from outdated power plants to doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, the historic steps we’ve taken will save tens of thousands of lives each year, remove over a billion tons of pollution from our air, and produce hundreds of billions of dollars in benefits for the American people.
At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time. Work is already underway to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013. Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.—President Obama
Overview of January 2010 proposed revisions to ozone NAAQS