Ozone Litigation Paused by DC Circuit

APRIL 13, 2017

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has granted the Trump administration’s request to postpone oral arguments on the Obama-era ozone standard that were scheduled for April 19. EPA asked for the delay, telling the court that the Trump administration is reviewing the 2015 Obama-era rule to determine whether part or all or parts of the rule should be reconsidered by the Agency.

In granting the request, the D.C. Circuit mandated that EPA file status reports every 90 days, commencing 90 days after the date of the order.

EPA’s 2015 ozone standard that set the permissible level at 70 parts per billion (ppb).
The previous level of 75 ppb was established in 2008 during the Bush Administration.

States and industry groups want EPA to vacate the standards completely. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, as Oklahoma Attorney General, joined the challenge to the rule by nine States. One of industry and the states’ arguments in the case is whether it is legal for EPA to set ozone standards that approach background levels and cannot be attained because of uncontrollable sources of pollution, such as naturally occurring ozone, pollution from wildfires and ozone transported from Mexico and Asia.

Environmental groups are challenging the rule to achieve an even lower standard. 
They contend that, because EPA set the health standard at a level the Agency acknowledges can cause adverse effects in healthy young adults, the new ozone standard “unlawfully and arbitrarily” fails to protect the health of both these and more sensitive populations.