Washington, D.C.-Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today welcomed the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they have again delayed finalizing a costly new ozone rule. The rule was scheduled to be unveiled by July 29, 2011, and this is the fourth time EPA has delayed its announcement.
"Today's announcement that the Obama EPA will again delay imposing a costly new ozone standard is great news," Senator Inhofe said. "While EPA still insists they will move forward, time is clearly on our side to convince them to halt this job-killing agenda.
"EPA's new ozone standard is projected to be the most expensive regulation in American history: by EPA's own analysis, it could cost up to $90 billion annually. And the outlook is bleak for jobs: another study finds that the rule could cause 7 million job losses by 2020, including 177,000 in Oklahoma.
"EPA is neither compelled by law nor science to revise the standard - in fact, the way in which the Agency is going about the reconsideration may itself be illegal. Given the magnitude of this decision on jobs and the economy, EPA must be held accountable.
"As long as the Obama EPA claims to be moving forward with this rule, I will ensure that Congress is providing the necessary oversight. We must do everything we can to expose the rule's harmful effects on businesses and working families."
In a letter sent last night to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Senator Inhofe asked the administrator to explain thoroughly her decision to undertake a reconsideration of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone, which was set to be unveiled by the end of the month.
This letter addresses Administrator Jackson's repeated claim that the Agency is legally bound to tighten ozone standards on the grounds that the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), created by the Clean Air Act (CAA) supports it. But this is not case: this proposal comes on the heels of the revised 2008 ozone standard, which was lowered significantly from 84 parts per billion (ppb) to 75 ppb. The CAA only requires a NAAQS revision "at least" every five years, so EPA is under no obligation currently to revise the standard.
Furthermore, the CAA specifically states that it is the role of the Administrator to exercise her independent judgment in determining the ambient level required to protect public health - she cannot rely solely on CASAC's recommendations. Yet, because the Agency did not seek public comment on the reconsideration of the 2008 standard, it appears that Administrator Jackson has improperly relied on CASACs. Under these circumstances, the current tightening of ozone NAAQS is not a reconsideration at all, but the proposal of an entirely new standard that does not follow the requisite process provided under the Clean Air Act.