EPA to consider changes to smog standard
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is kicking off the process of reviewing the nation’s ground-level ozone pollution standard, a project likely to take years.
In a notice due for publication in the Federal Register Tuesday, the EPA says it’s taking comments from the public to prepare to initial documents for the review to lay out the plan for the review process and the scientific literature on ozone, a component of smog.
The review will take place under new standards that President Trump set in an April memo. He instructed the EPA, when setting new air quality rules, to consider factors like “adverse public health or other effects that may result from implementation” of the rules and the extent to which areas have background levels of the pollutants that aren’t caused by human activity.
Both factors have long been pushed by industry in an attempt to get more lenient air pollution standards written.
Inhaling ozone is linked to respiratory ailments like asthma attacks. Since ozone can be created from pollutants caused by burning fossil fuels, states with areas that exceed the federal standard often look to reduce fossil fuel use, an often expensive proposition.
The EPA last set a new ozone standard in 2015, declaring that 70 parts per billion is the acceptable level for ambient air.
EPA head Scott Pruitt, who sued to stop the 2015 rule when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, tried last year to delay implementation of that standard, but backtracked. He is still considering seeking changes to the standard.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must reevaluate the ozone standard every five years to examine new scientific findings or other changes.