EPA misses smog rule deadline
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) missed a legal deadline to start implementing its regulation limiting ozone pollution.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt should have published Monday his initial determinations on which areas of the country exceed the new, stricter standard on ozone, a component of smog that is linked to respiratory illnesses.
But the EPA did not release any information on the initial findings on Monday. An agency spokeswoman said Tuesday that she did not have any more information on the matter.
In his last job as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued to stop the 2015 regulation written under former President Barack Obama.
Pruitt tried earlier this year to delay the initial compliance findings for a year. But when environmentalists and Democratic states sued, the agency walked back and said it would meet the Oct. 1 deadline — which was Sunday, but pushed to Monday for the weekend.
“Mr. Pruitt is showing a blatant disregard for the law by refusing to give Americans a full accounting of how much unsafe smog they’re breathing. That’s irresponsible. It’s illegal,” John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
“It risks the health of millions of people and stalls required cleanup steps. And it’s why we’ll continue to use every tool available to make sure all Americans learn sooner rather than later — or possibly never — whether their air is dirty and endangering their health.”
The Oct. 1 date is two years from the day that the Obama administration finalized the original rule.
The regulation reduced the allowable level of ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion, from the previous 75 parts per billion.
Business groups and Republican-led states want it repealed, since complying with the new standards would likely require states to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, whose emissions create ozone.