Court strikes down part of rule easing pollution standard implementation

Court strikes down part of rule easing pollution standard implementation
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A federal court in Washington, D.C., on Friday sided with environmentalists and struck down provisions relaxing requirements for areas that are not in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s air pollution standards. 

A panel of three judges on the United States Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., vacated several portions of a rule governing how standards for the pollutant ozone are implemented in areas that have levels beyond the safety standard set by the EPA. 

The three judges were appointed by former Presidents Carter, Clinton and Trump.


Seth Johnson, an attorney with Earthjustice who worked on the case, celebrated it as a health win for the approximately 122 million people who live in the affected areas, called nonattainment areas. 

“This is an important decision for making sure that pollution reductions are real, that they’re not just things that are happening on paper, that they’re things that are going to have an impact in the real world and that’s going to benefit people who live, work and breathe in areas with unhealthy levels of ozone,” Johnson said. 

One of the provisions that was struck allowed polluters to interchange the emission of one of the types of the gases that can form ozone for a different pollutant that’s also a precursor to ozone. 

Another provision allowed nonattainment areas to show that actions they have taken were projected to meet emission reduction goals, rather than that they were actually meeting them. 

An EPA spokesperson told The Hill that the agency was reviewing the decision. 

In the stratosphere, the ozone layer protects the Earth from ultraviolet light from the sun, but at ground level ozone, the main component in smog, can worsen health conditions like bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.