Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Just in

House-passed bill streamlines deadlines for ozone standards

Washington-Providing for a balance between environmental stewardship and economic and employment growth, the House last week passed the Farm Bureau-supported Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016 (H.R. 4775). The measure would ensure reasonable implementation of the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, streamline the air permitting process, and institute other reforms to federal air quality standards. 
"Stringent ozone standards could place serious restrictions on farmers, increasing input costs for things like electricity, fuel, fertilizer and equipment," American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter urging House lawmakers to approve the bill. "Further, as ozone standards are ratcheted down closer to levels that exist naturally, more farmers will be forced to abide by restrictions on equipment use and land management, making it more expensive to operate." 
Since 1980, ozone levels have decreased by 33 percent, and that downward trend will continue as states implement the 2008 ozone standards. In 2015, EPA released a new set of standards. Faced with the possibility of having to meet two ozone standards at once, states, along with business and industry, are worried about the potential negative impacts on economic development and job creation. Equally as important as these concerns is the fact that EPA projects that most of the U.S. will meet the 2015 ozone standard of 70 parts per billion by 2025, simply implementing current standards, like the 2008 ozone standards. 
The Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016 would alleviate these concerns and duplicative standards by harmonizing the deadlines for the 2015 ozone standards; requiring that the 2015 ozone standards would not apply to new air permits completed before final nonattainment designations; and changing the review period for NAAQS from five to 10 years. In addition, the bill would provide that when establishing or revising a NAAQS, the EPA administrator may consider technological feasibility as a secondary consideration; require the EPA administrator to publish concurrently implementing guidance and regulations when establishing or revising NAAQS; and require the EPA administrator to request advice on the adverse public health, welfare, social, economic, or energy effects from the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee before establishing or revising NAAQS. 

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