Greens intervene to defend EPA ozone rules

Greens intervene to defend EPA ozone rules
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Several environmental and health groups are moving to protect a new rule limiting ozone levels against a lawsuit. 

Earthjustice filed court papers on Tuesday supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new ozone standards in a case brought by a coal company opposed to the rule. 

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Murray Energy Corp. sued over the ozone limits in October, arguing the rule will be expensive to implement and damage coal industry jobs.

Federal regulators published the new standards on Oct. 26, tightening the acceptable level of surface ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. 

Murray sued against the rule immediately, and on Monday, groups including the American Lung Association, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) stepped in to defend it.

“EPA’s decision to strengthen ozone standards and to further protect the public’s health and welfare is necessary,” PSR Executive Director Catherine Thomasson said in a statement. “But it’s being placed in jeopardy by industry’s attempts to block the new standards.”

Industry groups fought hard against the EPA’s decision to tighten the ozone standard this year, arguing it would be among the most expensive regulations ever issued and saying it would lead to thousands of job losses. Several state attorneys general have also sued against the standard. 

Green groups were not pleased with the final levels, either, saying the feds should have taken a tougher stance against ozone and tightened the acceptable levels even more. 

But before the rule came out, they promised to defend whatever standard the EPA would introduce from industry lawsuits against it. 

“Ozone is dangerous to kids, seniors, and asthmatics,” David Baron, Earthjustice’s managing attorney, said in a statement. “Although the new anti-smog standards don’t go far enough, they will provide important additional protection to millions of Americans. Attempts to weaken these standards are baseless."