- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Maybe Washington was too hasty on its revised regulations for ground-level ozone.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced on Wednesday, Sept. 16, that the agency would reconsider the 2008 national smog standards. The agency plans to leave the current standards in place in the interim, while attainment and non-attainment areas are assessed.
The reconsideration covers both the primary (human-related) and secondary (environmental) ozone standards. The agency will propose any revisions to the ozone standards by December 2009 and will issue a final decision by August 2010.
Jackson said the EPA will review the science that guided the 2008 decision under previous Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, including more than 1,700 scientific studies and any public comments from that rulemaking process. The agency will also review the findings of the EPA's independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which recommended stronger smog standards.
"This is one of the most important protection measures we can take to safeguard our health and our environment. Smog in the air we breathe can cause difficulty breathing and aggravate asthma, especially in children," said Jackson.
In a press release, the EPA said it plans to move quickly to implement any new standards that might result from the reconsideration. To reduce the workload for states during the interim period of reconsideration, the agency will propose to stay the 2008 standards for the purpose of attainment and nonattainment area designations.
Primary/secondaryIn the lead-up to its 2008 designations, the EPA under President George W. Bush introduced separate designations for "primary" and "secondary" levels, with the implication that the two may be set at different levels. This did not come to pass; in the final regulations both levels remained the same. "Primary" designates air quality standards to protect public (read: "human") health, including sensitive groups, such as children and people with asthma. The secondary standard is set to protect public welfare and the environment, including protection against visibility impairment, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.
The EPA did not say whether it plans to create separate standards for either designation this time.