October 2015

EPA adopts new 70 ppb smog standard

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted a stricter smog limit that will force states to reduce emissions and bring billions in pollution-control costs to industry while improving respiratory health for millions over the next decade.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Oct. 1 issued a new standard for ground-level ozone of 70 parts per billion (ppb), the weakest limit under consideration by the agency.

The decision, which has been delayed for several years, came as a disappointment to public health advocates and environmentalists, who had endorsed a more stringent 60-ppb standard. They said they were likely to challenge the new standard in court, calling it too weak to protect Americans from harmful levels of air pollution.

Industry groups have waged a fierce lobbying and advertising campaign in recent months aimed at weakening or preventing new smog standards, which they predict will stifle businesses and weaken economic growth.

The new rules replace a previous limit of 75 ppb, set in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration.

The EPA will give California until 2037—12 years longer than the rest of the nation—to meet the new standards.

Politicians have been hesitant to tighten standards on ozone because of the far-reaching implications of further reductions. The George W. Bush administration rejected its science review panel’s recommendations for a tougher limit when it adopted the 2008 ozone standard of 75 ppb. The Obama administration had vowed to tighten ozone rules, but the president set aside the proposal four years ago at the start of his reelection bid, leaving the Bush-era limit in place.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to review its health standards for ozone and other key pollutants every five years.

Environmental groups sued the EPA in 2013 over its delays. They secured a court-ordered deadline that required the EPA to release a new smog rule by Oct. 1, today.

SOURCE: The LA Times