New data from EPA show that states are having trouble meeting the current ozone NAAQS standards, casting more doubt on their ability to meet even tighter standards as proposed by the agency, according to API Senior Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman.
“EPA clearly understands that many municipalities need more time to implement the current ozone standards, and yet the agency continues its heedless rush to lower them further,” Feldman said. “Adding to the absurdity of EPA’s position is the fact that current standards, the strictest ever imposed, are working to improve air quality even though they have not been fully implemented. Further lowering the standard could significantly chill economic investment and activity across the nation.”
EPA recently found that 19 metropolitan areas need more time to attain the 2008 ozone standards and will give these jurisdictions, which include St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, more time. “The nation’s air is getting cleaner and will continue to improve as states implement the existing standards,” Feldman said. “Let’s allow the current ozone rules to work and work together to finish implementing them.”
An analysis of the three most recent years of ozone data shows that 217 counties are measured or projected to be out of attainment or in metropolitan areas that do not meet the standards, according to Feldman. Lower those standards to 70 parts per billion, the number of counties in non-attainment would jump to 958, a fourfold increase. And if the administration lowers the standards to 68 parts per billion, the number of counties in non-attainment climbs to 1433 – nearly half the counties or county equivalents in the nation. EPA faces a court-ordered deadline of October 1 to either change the ozone standards or keep the current standards in place. API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry.