On Wednesday, March 12, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was tightening the 8-hour ozone from 00.084 ppm to 0.075 ppm, patting itself on the back for signing into law “the most stringent 8-hour standard ever.” However, that was higher than the 0.06 to 0.07 level that the Science Advisory Board had recommended last summer.
Against that fact was weighed the fact that “tens of millions of people” who were not previously covered by the current 0.084 ppm level will now be covered and that attainment of the of the 0.075 level is decades off. It is reported that 345 counties will now violate the new standard. However, instead of a piecemeal approach where counties and states come into compliance with one standard, only to have the standard moved lower, should the EPA not set the standard at the point where the benefit is the greatest for the cost of implementation?
It is also interesting to note that the EPA came out with this rule at the same time it is revising the General Conformity Rules which will make it easier for Federal agencies to circumvent the requirements of the Clean Air Act that state that Federal agencies must assure conformity with State Implementation Plans prior to undertaking a project. It is also interesting to note that the same EPA Administrator recently turned down California’s request to tighten the automobile emission standards, making harder for California to achieve the ozone standards already in place.