October 01, 2015

Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards: Should Cost Be a Consideration?

Arnold W. Reitze Jr.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required by the Clean Air Act (CAA) to promulgate atmospheric air quality goals, known as national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), for criteria pollutants. Criteria pollutants are those that in the judgment of the EPA’s Administrator “cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” CAA § 108(a)(1)(A), 42 U.S.C. § 7408(a)(1)(A). The EPA has designated six NAAQS: particulates, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and lead. The NAAQS include primary and secondary standards. Primary standards are to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety. This requires consideration of the uncertainties associated with inconclusive scientific and technical information and is intended to provide a reasonable degree of protection against hazards not yet identified. Am. Petroleum Inst. v. Costle, 665 F.2d 1176 (D.C. Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 1034 (1982). Secondary standards are to protect public welfare, which is defined broadly to include effects on climate. Except for sulfur dioxide, there is no difference between each pollutant’s primary and secondary standards.

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