June 2, 2014
A draft letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) recommends a tighter standard for how much ozone pollution can be in the air, recommending that the lower bound of the standard should be 60 parts per billion, much lower than the current standard. But the letter notes that committee members haven’t made a decision on the upper bound of the ozone standard, according to a 12 May 2014 report from Energy and Environmental Publishing.
Since the letter has not been completely reviewed or approved by the overall committee, it doesn’t represent EPA policy and it could change. But it’s a sign that EPA may lower the current standard of 75 ppb, which could lead to cleaner air for millions of Americans. However, it will also create billions of dollars in extra costs for industry and added headaches for some states that already find it difficult to meet the current standard.
“The Second Draft [Policy Assessment] concludes that the scientific evidence and available information support consideration of a new primary ozone standard within the 60 ppb to 70 ppb range based on ozone as the indicator,” the “consensus responses” part of the letter reads. “The CASAC concurs that 60 ppb is an appropriate and justifiable scientifically based lower bound for a revised primary standard.”
The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, charged with reviewing the scientific evidence for ozone in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), will hold a committee meeting via teleconference May 28 and will eventually submit a recommendation letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who will make the final judgment.
As to their recommendation on what the upper limit on ozone pollution should be, while no decisions have been made, the letter implies that the 75 ppb standard is inadequate for protecting public health.
According to a 2010 EPA fact sheet, a standard of 60 ppb would avert 4,000 to 12,000 premature deaths, cut the number of days when people miss work or school by 2.5 million, and prevent 21,000 hospital and ER visits. If the standard is set at 70 ppb, those benefits are significantly reduced.
Industry is likely to fight back hard against whatever standard is chosen by McCarthy, a former chief of the EPA air office. Lawsuits against the EPA to try to suspend or roll back whatever new standard is adopted seem inevitable.
EPA is under a court deadline to produce a draft ozone rule by Dec. 1, 2014, and a final one by Oct. 1, 2015.
What this means to you
Ground level (bad) ozone is created in a chemical reaction when oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) form in the presence of sunlight. Lowering ozone standards below today’s 75 ppb level would require tighter emission controls limits on NOx and VOCs.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for emissions solutions to reduce NOx, CO, HC, and VOC’s for rich or lean burn engines.