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EPA to Extend Deadline for 2015 Ozone NAAQS Area Designations

On June 6, 2017, EPA announced that Administrator Scott Pruitt had sent a letter to governors informing them of his decision to extend, by one year, the deadline for promulgating initial area designations under the 2015 ozone NAAQS.  EPA sent a letter to Governor Hickenlooper.

EPA’s press release, states:

“EPA is giving states more time to develop air quality plans and EPA is looking at providing greater flexibility to states as they develop their plans. And, pursuant to the language in the recently-enacted FY2017 Omnibus funding bill, Administrator Pruitt is establishing an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force to develop additional flexibilities for states to comply with the ozone standard.

“Additionally, the Agency is taking time to better understand some lingering, complicated issues so that air attainment decisions can be based on the latest and greatest information.  This additional time will also provide the agency time to review the 2015 ozone NAAQS, prior to taking this initial implementation step.

“Although the new ozone standard was set on October 1, 2015, there remains a host of complex issues that could undermine associated compliance efforts by states and localities.  The Agency is evaluating these issues, primarily focused on:

  • Fully understanding the role of background ozone levels;
  • Appropriately accounting for international transport,
  • And, timely consideration of exceptional events demonstrations.”

The RAQC, and its partners at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), are assessing how this affects the planning timeline for both the 2008 and 2015 ozone standards.