Five states sue over EPA's ozone rule

Five states sue over EPA's ozone rule
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Five states, led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, have sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its new limits on ozone. 

The lawsuit, released Tuesday, is the first filed against the standards by states, which are charged under the EPA’s regulations with reducing ozone to acceptable levels.

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In a statement, Brnovich questioned whether the EPA conducted an appropriate scientific review before issuing its new standard of 70 parts per billion on Oct. 1.

“The financial stakes for this state are enormous if we are unable to comply and I am going to do everything within my power as attorney general to protect Arizona,” he said.

The EPA tightened the ozone standard from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion over the objection of business groups and Republican lawmakers, who had warned implementing the rule would be difficult and expensive. 

Murray Energy Corp., a coal company, on Monday sued the EPA over the standards, after the rule was published in the Federal Register. Arkansas, New Mexico, North Dakota and Oklahoma joined Arizona in its lawsuit on Tuesday. 

When she announced the rule earlier this month, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency pored over thousands of new public health studies to set the acceptable ozone limit at 70 parts per billion. Businesses had asked regulators to keep the level steady, while public health groups had hoped to see it go even lower. 

The standards, McCarthy said then, are achievable, projecting that outside of California, which has severe smog issues, only 14 counties will be out of attainment by 2025.

But Brnovich disputed that this week.

“We all want clean air, however, reducing the ozone standards to 70 parts per billion will be nearly impossible for Arizona to attain,” he said. 

“The new rule completely ignores Congress’s intent that the EPA set ozone levels for the states that are actually attainable.”