Western Officials Praise EPA Decision To Delay Ozone Rule Implementation
Officials across the West are applauding the Trump administration’s decision to give states an additional year to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone rule, which was made more stringent under the Obama administration.
“It’s great to see the EPA working with Arizonans for a change,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said in a statement issued yesterday. “Nowhere are the flaws of previous administration’s one-size-fits-all approach to regulating ozone more evident than in Arizona, a desert state where naturally-occurring ozone makes it impossible to meet the new federal mandate.”
Yesterday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the deadline for compliance with the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone will be pushed back a year. The ozone standard, a Clean Air Act regulation, was made stricter in 2015 amid warnings from the National Association of Manufacturers that it “would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public.” Non-compliant areas face additional regulations, restrictions on infrastructure investment and increased costs to businesses, according to the EPA.
“States have made tremendous progress and significant investment cleaning up the air. We will continue to work with states to ensure they are on a path to compliance,” Pruitt said in a statement yesterday. The EPA is establishing a task force to explore ways to give states more flexibility to comply with the ozone standard.
“We share the goal of clean air, a robust economy and stronger, healthier communities,” Pruitt continued. “We are committed to working with states and local officials to effectively implement the ozone standard in a manner that is supportive of air quality improvement efforts without interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth.”
“I’d especially like to thank EPA Administrator Pruitt for listening to local stakeholders and recognizing Arizona’s already successful efforts to significantly reduce ozone level in recent years,” Flake said.
Several states, including Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, North Dakota and Texas, have filed lawsuits challenging the ozone rule.
In a statement released yesterday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the EPA’s deadline extension.
“I am grateful for the leadership of EPA Administrator Pruitt in courageously pausing the costly and ineffective Ozone Rule,” Paxton said. “I’m hopeful that the one year delay will provide time for the EPA to review the detrimental effects the Ozone Rule will have on the Texas economy.”
Flake’s colleague in West Virginia, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), also hailed the EPA’s decision to delay the implementation of the ozone standard.
“State and local governments and employers across the country have had insufficient time to comply with the latest revisions to the ozone standards,” Capito said in a statement. “I commend Administrator Pruitt and his staff at the EPA for acknowledging this reality and acting today to delay existing standards. The overlapping standards have caused regulatory confusion, even as ozone emissions continue to decline.”
Before the Obama administration finalized the stricter ozone rule in October 2015, its proposals to tighten the standard had faced backlash from officials on both sides of the aisle.
In August 2015, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said he was “deeply concerned” about a more stringent ozone rule. “This is the perfect example of applying the law [Clean Air Act] and doing it in a way that doesn’t make sense on the ground,” he said.
Colorado’s Democratic governor John Hickenlooper was similarly “very concerned.”
“To set up a standard where you know you’re not going to be able to achieve it, and obviously we’re at a unique disadvantage because we’re a mile high,” Hickenlooper told CBS Denver in 2015. “So when you’re at 5,000 feet you’re ozone challenges are significantly more difficult.”