EPA’s new ozone standards strongly challenged in stakeholder conference call

Source: Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management

In a move projected to reduce child asthma attacks by almost a quarter million per year and save thousands of lives, the Obama administration today lowered national ozone standards from 75 to 70 parts per billion (ppb).

The standard was attacked by industry as too expensive, and by environmental and health groups, including MFN member Earthjustice, for not adequately protecting public health:

Late this afternoon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a stakeholder conference call to discuss the standards.  It was hosted by Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation.

Listeners were urged to ask questions, and virtually every questioner challenged the EPA’s decision to set the bar at 75 rather than 65 ppb or lower. Brian Urbaszewski of the Respiratory Health Association said the administration had ignored their own experts, who wrote that lowering the allowable level would reduce asthma attacks by hundreds of thousands more per year.  

An Earthjustice caller suggested that for this pollutant, unlike others, the EPA is ignoring epidemiological evidence. Another caller asked why, since their EPA regulatory staff said 65 parts per billion would eliminate hundreds of thousands more asthma attacks, they chose 70.  A pediatrician from Atlanta cited research showing levels above 60 damage adults’ lung function.

Ms McCabe emphasized that the final decision, as required by law, was made by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  She said the agency did not ignore epidemiological studies, their decision was based on the certainty of the science, and that a level of below 70 has not been shown to damage health.

For more on this topic, see:

Obama administration sets new national ozone standard, PBS Newshour

EPA to tighten federal limits on ozone, The Hill

Obama’s new ozone standard has greens seeing red, Politico

American Lung Association in California Responds to Ozone Standard Update, ALA

Oil Industry Gets Help On Undermining Ozone Standards From A Well-Informed Source, Huffington Post