The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Aug. 2 withdrew its decision to delay the 2015 ozone standards amid legal challenges from environmental and public health groups and 16 states. The move indicates there was no basis for the delay, according to Georgia Murray, staff scientist with the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC).
AMC was among the parties that took legal action to challenge the agency’s grounds for the delay. “AMC considered the EPA’s stalling unsubstantiated and illegal under the Clean Air Act,” Murray said. “Implementation of the new standard is expected to benefit the health of citizens, including those who are active outdoors, and save hundreds of lives.”
Many of the 16 states that challenged EPA on the delay are in AMC’s region including New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington also joined.
EPA had announced in June that it planned to delay the identification of areas across the country that were not meeting the ozone standards set by the Obama Administration in 2015. By delaying this step, the agency would also delay development of plans to clean up sources of ozone pollution.
Ozone is a dangerous pollutant that can impact healthy people exercising outdoors. At particular risk are children, elderly citizens and people with asthma.
Murray said AMC will continue to urge EPA to proceed with implementing and enforcing the current ozone standard in a timely manner, while using the most accurate information available.
A legal challenge to EPA’s delay of implementing the ozone standard was brought by Earthjustice on behalf of AMC as well as American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, American Thoracic Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club, and West Harlem Environmental Action. Partners in the lawsuit are Clean Air Task Force (representing Clean Air Council and the Ohio Environmental Council), Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Environmental Defense Fund.
EPA’s notice of the withdrawal is online at https://www.epa.gov/ozone-designations/ozone-designations-regulatory-actions
Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. AMC helps people of all ages and abilities to explore and develop a deep appreciation of the natural world. With chapters from Maine to Washington, D.C., guidebooks and maps, and unique lodges and huts, AMC helps people get outdoors on their own, with family and friends, and through activities close to home and beyond. AMC invites the public to support its conservation advocacy and research, youth programming, and care of 1,800 miles of trails. More information is available at www.outdoors.org.