Appeals court to hear challenge to EPA ozone rule

Appeals court to hear challenge to EPA ozone rule
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A federal appeals court has scheduled a February session to hear oral arguments in an industry coalition’s challenge to the Obama administration’s 2015 rule limiting ground-level ozone pollution.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said Monday that a three-judge panel will hear from lawyers in the case Feb. 16.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the contested rule in October 2015, setting the allowable concentration of ozone at 70 parts per billion, down from the 75 part-per-billion limit from 2008.

Some ozone occurs naturally, but it is also a byproduct of some pollutants created by burning fossil fuels, so states may have to curtail fossil fuel use in order to comply. Ozone is a component of smog and is linked to numerous respiratory ailments like asthma attacks.

In court filings earlier this year, the business interests, led by the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, told the judges that the regulation goes too far and violates the Clean Air Act.

Specifically, the groups and numerous conservative states say the rule did not properly account for background ozone that cannot be controlled, nor for various economic, social and other impacts from lowering the ozone limit.

The EPA told the court that the regulation fits squarely within the Clean Air Act, which requires that ozone levels are calculated based only on public health and environmental standards, not the costs of compliance.

A coalition of environmental and health groups like the Sierra Club and Physicians for Social Responsibility also sued the EPA, saying that the regulation is not strict enough. They will also argue their case at the February hearing.