EPA Backs Off Delay to Obama-Era Ozone Regulations

Just days after being sued by 15 states, the EPA has announced it will no longer seek to delay Obama’s smog-fighting air quality regulations.

The regulations, known as the 2015 Ozone Designations, set caps on ground-level ozone, and they’re due to be enforced by October 1 of this year. In June, EPA chief Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA would delay the ozone rule by one year to avoid “interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth”.

Pruitt is a known supporter of the fossil fuel industry, as well as a climate science denier. But this latest act was, for many, a step too far. In response, a coalition of states warned that unless Pruitt rethought his plan, there would be legal action.

Making good on their word, a coalition of mostly Democratic states led by perpetual thorn in the Trump administration’s side New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a lawsuit on Tuesday, August 1. The group claims that delaying the ozone rules directly conflicts with current law.

In a breakneck turnaround, Pruitt announced on Wednesday that the administration would no longer delay this rule. What’s more, he contended, the speed with which his department has acted on this issue shows the administration’s desire to work with states to seek effective solutions to environmental challenges.

According to The Guardian, Pruitt stated:

Under previous administrations, EPA would often fail to meet designation deadlines, and then wait to be sued by activist groups and others, agreeing in a settlement to set schedules for designation,” said Pruitt, who sued EPA more than a dozen times in his previous job. We do not believe in regulation through litigation, and we take deadlines seriously. We also take the statute and the authority it gives us seriously.

The Obama-era ground-level ozone rule is a commonsense step toward ensuring we have breathable, safe air.

Ground-level ozone is created when cars or refineries emit gasses that react at ground level when exposed to sunlight. This generates smog that can, in turn, cause serious breathing problems, particularly among young asthmatics or older people with respiratory problems.

And these effects are not just speculative. They have been tracked in scientific studies over the past several decades, with research showing that the health implications of ground-level ozone will only become more dire, unless we act.

EPA data shows that, under full implementation of the ground-level ozone rule, the U.S. could see a reduction of around 660 premature deaths per year. In addition, 230,000 childhood asthma attacks might be prevented. Other estimates suggest that about 28,000 missed workdays will be eliminated per year — all adding up to significant savings that will outlive the costs.

The conclusion that Obama-era air pollution rules can be cost-effective and actually generate savings has been supported by several independent studies —  despite the Trump administration’s contention that they will harm the economy.

New York Attorney General Schneiderman explained that, even though the Trump administration aims to systematically dismantle all the hard-fought gains made by the Obama administration in the area of public health and environmental safety, the fight is far from over:

On Tuesday, we sued the EPA for blocking vital clean air protections. Last night, the EPA reversed course, withdrawing Administrator Pruitt’s year-long delay of these critical smog regulations. One in three New Yorkers breathe dangerous smog levels. The EPA’s reversal – following our lawsuits – is an important win for the health and safety of the 6.7 million New Yorkers, and the over 115 million Americans, directly impacted by smog pouring into their communities. Our coalition of Attorneys General will continue to take the legal action necessary to protect the people we serve – including making sure the EPA finalizes the designations by October 1, as required by the Clean Air Act.

This small victory shows that the Trump administration cannot simply bulldoze existing policies. And given the White House’s current record on the environment, it’s a sorely needed policy move.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

37 comments

Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIEabout a month ago

Thank you

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Carl R
Carl Rabout a month ago

Thanks!!!

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One Heart i
One Heart incabout a month ago

Thanks!!!

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

It's not just disagreements, it's constant fighting and egos.

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Heidi Gail N
Heidi Gail Nabout a month ago

Thankful for the just-hearted. And for going the extra mile.

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Carl R
Carl Rabout a month ago

Thanks!!!

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One Heart i
One Heart incabout a month ago

Thanks!!!

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Julie W
Julie Wabout a month ago

Thank God for some good news among the daily sludge.

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Lisa b
Lisa babout a month ago

These WH swampers, courtesy of Trump, block anything and everything. till they're sued. and lose. repeatedly. how's that winning going???

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S J
S Jabout a month ago

Glad to hear knowledge wins over foolishness and stupidity. I hope to hear more and more. Thank you for sharing

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