Next On Ozone
Posted August 21, 2018
EPA’s recent decision not to revisit 2015 ozone standards suggests a couple of points as the agency looks ahead to its scheduled 2020 review of the ozone air quality standards.
First, it’s imperative that EPA build its 2020 review around quality science – for one, to properly consider background levels of ozone and how they affect where the federal government sets the standards. For some parts of the country the 2015 standards were near levels of background ozone – setting up compliance problems for places such as Yellowstone National Park.
Second, on the road to the 2020 review, there should be discussion of implementation relief – from EPA or directly by Congress legislatively. That’s because currently, states and Native American tribes still face a status quo of implementing parallel sets of ozone standards – from 2015 and 2008, because implementation of the 2008 standards was incomplete when the 2015 standards were established.
Certainly, industry is focused on developing better air quality standards that make sense from a scientific and environmental standpoint and that also recognize significant ozone progress in recent years. Howard Feldman, API senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs:
“We will continue to work with EPA and other stakeholders to see that air quality standards better reflect the body of science and other considerations to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety. Since 1970, U.S. ozone concentrations have fallen 22 percent due in part to investments by the natural gas and oil industry of more than $108 billion between 2000-2016 in technology and other advancements that have improved the environmental performance of its products, facilities and operations.”
Feldman refers to data in EPA’s recent air quality report, which finds that the air Americans breathe is cleaner than it has been in more than four decades – including a 22 percent decrease in ground-level ozone since 1990. Here’s EPA’s ozone chart:
Again, on the way to 2020, a sound scientific approach is critically important so that states don’t have to risk putting the brakes on economic development. Feldman, in an piece for The Hill last year:
States could be required to place restrictions on everything from manufacturing and energy development to infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. The regulations are so misguided and detached from science that their implementation could place hundreds of counties out of attainment and subject to costly mitigation measures.
Also in the interim, some form of implementation relief should be considered, relief that gives states and tribes ample flexibility under the law.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and four grandchildren.
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