Troutman Sanders: EPA Modifies Air Quality Standards for Ozone

By Troutman Sanders LLP

On October 1, 2015 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) adopted a more stringent air quality standard for ground-level ozone emissions that reduces the national standard from 75 parts per billion (“ppb”) to 70 ppb. By promulgating a new ozone standard, EPA says it aims to reduce smog from ground-level emission sources, including power plants, smoke stacks, and automobiles. In conjunction with the new standard, EPA also issued an “Implementation Memo,” which outlines the agency’s plans for addressing various implementation issues under the new standard.

The new ozone standard was issued as part of EPA’s authority under Sections 108 and 109 of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (also referred to as “NAAQS”). These sections of the CAA require EPA to periodically review its NAAQS. As a result, EPA conducted a review of its ozone NAAQS beginning in 2008, which resulted in the issuance of a proposed rule to change the ozone NAAQS in November of 2014. The draft proposed rule suggested a potential ozone range of 65 ppb to 70 ppb; however, in the final rule, EPA adopted the upper limit of 70 ppb of this range as the new NAAQS for ozone.

EPA also seeks to justify the rule on the grounds that the benefits of the new ozone standard will outweigh the projected $1.4 billion in costs. According to EPA, the public health benefits from the stronger ozone standard account for $2.9 to $5.9 billion of costs. Additionally, EPA believes that most U.S. counties will meet the new ozone standard by 2025 by working within the framework of existing federal and state rules. To facilitate compliance with the new ozone standard, EPA also plans to work closely with states and tribes to develop and implement clean air plans.

A copy of the final rule can be found here. The “Implementation Memo” can be found here. The rule will become effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

About Troutman Sanders

Troutman Sanders is an international law firm with offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Founded in 1897, the firm’s heritage of extensive experience, exceptional responsiveness and an unwavering commitment to service has garnered strong, long-standing relationships with clients across the globe. These clients range from multinational corporations to individual entrepreneurs, federal and state agencies to foreign governments, and non-profit organizations to businesses representing virtually every sector and industry.

Troutman Sanders lawyers provide counsel and advice in practically every aspect of civil and commercial law related to the firm’s core practice areas: Corporate, Finance, Litigation, Public Law and Real Estate. With more than 50 practice groups focused on specific aspects of these areas, the firm is defined by its considerable knowledge base and proactive approach to addressing legal and business challenges.

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