Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Trump's EPA backs away from tougher standard on smog


Without standard, NJ can’t crack down on cars, trucks, businesses that pump ozone into the atmosphere

Tom Johnson reports
for NJ Spotlight:


New Jersey’s worst air pollution problem may take a bit longer to clean up.
The Environmental Protection Agency decided last week to put a year-long hold on implementing a rule designed to curb ozone-forming pollution from cars, trucks, and businesses.
Backing away from the tougher standard for ground-level ozone, more commonly referred to as smog, means it will be at least another year before New Jersey finds out whether it has achieved the federal health-quality standard for the pollutant.
The state has never achieved the standard in the nearly four-decade history of the federal Clean Air Act. Last year, there were 24 days when New Jersey exceeded the standard; ozone is a pollutant that is unhealthy for kids, the elderly, and those with respiratory diseases.
In a letter to governors, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the delay of the rule, which was adopted by the Obama administration in October 2015. It lowered the standard for ozone in air from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion.
In extending the deadline for determining what areas are failing to attain the new standard, the EPA is giving states more time to develop air-quality plans while providing greater flexibility to states as they develop those plans.
As the agency has since Pruitt took over as administrator, the letter focused on the consequences faced by states designated as “non-attainment,’’ including regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased costs to businesses.
But environmentalists criticized the move — the latest rollback of environmental initiatives since President Donald Trump took office. Previously, the administration scrapped increased fuel standards for cars and a plan to curb carbon pollution from power plants.

Read the full story here

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