Time to Strengthen NAAQS – EHS Daily Advisor

According to consent decree proposal filed by the EPA in the Federal Register, the Agency plans to finalize stricter ozone pollution standards for several large metropolitan areas by September 15, 2022.

These areas include Chicago-Naperville, Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, Texas; New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, New York-New Jersey-Connecticut; and Denver-Boulder-Greeley-Ft. Collins-Loveland, Colorado On April 13, 2022, the EPA published a proposed rulemaking that would determine that these areas “failed to achieve 2008 ozone levels.” [National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)] on July 20, 2021… All of these areas had been classified as severe nonattainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.”

The decree also refers to a July 14, 2022 proposed rulemaking that would determine that the western portion of Nevada County and all of Ventura County in California had achieved the 2008 ozone NAAQS by July 20, 2021 , date of achievement. Both areas were classified as severe for the 2008 NAAQS. The order requires EPA to issue a final rule on these two areas by December 16, 2022.

These places have a population of almost 50 million people.

The consent decree was reached at the Center for Biological Diversity, et al. Lawsuit against Regan, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit alleged that EPA failed to meet certain nondiscretionary obligations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to timely determine the attainment status of the above locations with respect to the NAAQS d 2008 ozone.

“EPA did not reclassify the … regions … based on the 2018-2020 monitoring data for 2008 [Ozone NAAQS]”, affirms a Press release from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD)..

“The EPA’s failure to complete a simple task like downgrading smog is delaying the protection of nearly 50 million people from this toxic threat,” said Kaya Allan Sugerman, director of illegal toxic threats at the Center for Environmental Health, in the press release. “Environmental monitoring data shows that these areas clearly have dangerous levels of smog that need to be addressed as soon as possible.”

The CBD and Center for Environmental Health also presented another lawsuit on June 7, 2022, in the Northern District of California to compel the EPA to enforce smog reduction measures in Los Angeles, Sacramento and New Hampshire.

“The EPA is simply not doing its job to protect people and the environment from dangerous smog pollution,” Camilla Getz, a CBD law fellow, said in a CBD. Press release on June 2022 demand. “Regulators cannot turn their backs on the reality that smog pollution is a driver of catastrophic global warming and biodiversity loss, two of the greatest threats to human health and life on Earth as we know it.”

On July 5, 2022, the two environmental groups also filed a notice of intent to sue the Agency for alleged delays in failing to ensure that smog reduction measures were put in place in San Diego, Placer County , Ventura County, Colorado, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

The EPA has determined that the areas covered in the legal notice have smog pollution at levels high enough to cause significant human health problems and ecological damage, according to the CBD press release on the notice of intent.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it takes litigation to spur the EPA to take action to ensure we have clean and safe air,” Sugerman said.

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