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Court Orders EPA to Complete Area Designations for 2015 Ozone NAAQS

Posted on 3/19/2018 by Roger Marks

air-pollution.jpgOn March 12, a US District Court ordered EPA to complete its area designations by April 30, 2018 under its new National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone, promulgated in late 2015.

The only exception in this decision is for eight undesignated counties that compose the San Antonio, Texas area. EPA must complete all other area designations within 127 days of the order.


Background on Clean Air Act NAAQS Designations  

Each time US EPA updates its NAAQs requirements for a given pollutant—as the Agency did for ozone on October 1, 2015—the update triggers a reassessment of regional attainment status. States must determine which regions attain the updated standard and which don’t and submit the data to US EPA.

EPA must complete the area designations within two years once the Agency updates any NAAQS. 

coal-fired-power-plant.jpgRegions are found to be “in attainment” when the new air quality standard has been achieved. “Non-attainment,” on the other hand, means that levels of the pollutant still exceed EPA’s threshold. Facilities located in non-attainment regions face more stringent requirements for building or modifying sources of air pollution.

Because EPA finalized the new ozone NAAQS on October 1, 2015, Administrator Scott Pruitt had until October 1, 2017 to complete the area designations under the new Standard. Initially, EPA announced it would delay these designations until October 1, 2018 due to a lack of information.

EPA later withdrew this delay, re-setting the deadline at October 1, 2017. However, the area designations were not completed on time, leading state Attorneys General and citizen groups to sue EPA demanding the Agency meet its statutory responsibility.


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Tags: Act, Air, Clean, EPA, NAAQS, New Source Review

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