Obama admin proposes tighter ozone standard

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, December 1, 2014

U.S. EPA proposed to tighten the national ozone standard on the grounds that the current level is not adequate enough to protect public health from the harmful effects of ozone pollution.

The agency will propose to lower the current standard of 75 parts per billion — set in 2008 during the George W. Bush administration — to a range between 65 and 70 ppb, according to an opinion piece published by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on CNN Money. The agency will take comment on a standard as low as 60 ppb.

“I am proposing to update national ozone pollution standards to clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information and protect those most at-risk — our children, our elderly and people already suffering from lung diseases like asthma,” McCarthy said in the opinion piece, which was circulated this morning by EPA.

Ground-level ozone is a key component of photochemical smog and has been linked to adverse health effects such as reduced lung function.

The proposal is certain to get mixed reaction among stakeholders and generate thousands of public comments. Public health groups have called on the agency to set a new standard no higher than 60 ppb, while industry groups have urged EPA to retain the current level of 75 ppb on the basis of cost.

McCarthy took a pre-emptive strike against critics in her opinion piece, citing the Clean Air Act, which compels EPA to base National Ambient Air Quality Standards on the science on public health.

“Critics play a dangerous game when they denounce the science and law EPA has used to defend clean air for more than 40 years,” she said. “The American people should know better.”