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EPA Proposes Stricter Smog Standards

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., January 8, 2010

On January 7, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to decrease the national standard for ground-level ozone (smog) from 0.075 ppm to between 0.060 and 0.070 ppm.  EPA, EPA Strengthens Smog Standard/Proposed standards, Jan. 7, 2010, http://yosemite.epa.gov/
opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/d70b9c433c46
faa3852576a40058b1d4!OpenDocument
.  The existing level of 0.075 ppm was established by the Bush Administration in 2008, over the objections of some of the Agency’s scientific advisers. 

EPA announced in September of 2009 that it intended to reconsider the 2008 ozone rule, based on the current Administration’s belief that the 2008 standard was not protective enough of human health.  Ground-level ozone, which forms when emissions from industrial facilities, power plants, landfills and motor vehicles react in the sun, is linked to health problems including aggravation of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.  Id. 

The 0.060 to 0.070 ppm range for the revised primary standard is based on EPA’s conclusion that a lower range is necessary to provide increased protection for children and other “at risk” populations.  EPA also proposed a new cumulative, seasonal secondary standard based on weighted hourly concentrations during peak ozone season to provide increased protection against ozone-related adverse impacts on vegetation and forested ecosystems.  EPA, Ground-level Ozone Regulatory Actions, http://www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/actions.html#jan10s (includes link to proposed rule).

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2009 (75 Fed. Reg. 2939).  Written comments are due by March 22, 2010.  Public hearings have been scheduled on February 2, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia and Houston, Texas, and February 4, 2010 in Sacramento, California.

For more information, please contact David Friedland at (202) 789-6047 (dfriedland@bdlaw.com) or Laura McAfee at (410) 230-1330 (lmcafee@bdlaw.com).  This alert was prepared with the assistance of Sarah Doverspike. 

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