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President Obama Withdraws Support of New Ozone Air Quality Standards

Holleb_Hotaling_Keri_COLORBy Keri L. Holleb Hotaling

 

The Obama administration told EPA today that the President does not support finalizing the July 11, 2011 draft final rule, "Reconsideration of the 2008 Ozone Primary and Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards" and that the rule was being returned to the EPA for reconsideration. Following the recommendation of its scientific advisers, the EPA recently proposed lowering the ozone standard from 75 parts per billion ("ppb") set by the Bush administration in 2008 to a new stricter standard between 60 ppb and 70 ppb. In a statement, President Obama stressed his commitment to the environment, but stated, "I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover." Relevant provisions of the Clean Air Act forbid EPA to consider costs in deciding the stringency of both primary and secondary national ambient air quality standards. The President went on to say, "[w]ith that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time. Work is already underway to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013. Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered." In a letter to EPA Administrator Jackson, Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said that he had been instructed by the President to carefully scrutinize all regulations "that impose significant costs on the private sector or on state, local, or tribal governments." Administrator Jackson said in a statement that "[t]his Administration has put in place some of the most important standards and safeguards for clean air in U.S. history: the most significant reduction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide air pollution across state borders; a long-overdue proposal to finally cut mercury pollution from power plants; and the first-ever carbon pollution standards for cars and trucks. We will revisit the ozone standard, in compliance with the Clean Air Act."

President Obama's Statement

Sunstein's Letter to Administrator Jackson

Administrator Jackson's Statement