Friday, December 8, 2017

Pennsylvania, other states sue EPA over ozone deadline

Clairton Coke Works, near Pittsburgh. Photo: Reid R. Frazier
Clairton Coke Works, near Pittsburgh. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

Reid Frazier reports for StateImpact:
Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen states suing the EPA for failing to enforce on an important air pollution regulation.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Pennsylvania and 13 other states, plus the District of Columbia, say the EPA blew by an October 1 deadline to designate which parts of the country are failing to meet recently tightened federal standards for ozone, or ground level smog.
States use those designations to issue regulations on the amount of pollution that power plants, cars and factories can produce within their borders.
By not meeting the October 1 deadline, the agency was putting public health at risk, public health advocates said.
“The way it’s set up now, it’s going to further delay the actual beginning of the cleanup process for many of these communities, because they can’t start the planning until they know what areas are (over the EPA limit),” said Janice Nolen, Assistant Vice President of National Policy at the American Lung Association, one of several groups also suing the agency over the deadline. “The people of Pennsylvania are going to have to breathe higher ozone, longer than they need to.”
In 2015, EPA lowered its standard for ozone from 75 to 70 parts per billion (ppb). The agency had two years to determine which areas met that designation, and which didn’t.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection sent the EPA a list of counties that failed the standard. They include five Philadelphia-area counties, plus Berks and Lebanon counties. Several counties in the Pittsburgh area, including Allegheny County, scored out at 70 parts per billion, just in the attainment zone.
The DEP, through a spokesman, declined comment.
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