EPA Administrator Extends Designations Under 2015 Ozone NAAQS by One Year

June 6, 2017 – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to governors informing them that he is extending, by one year (until October 1, 2018), the deadline for promulgating initial area designations under the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone.  Pruitt says in the letter that he is taking this action under Section 107(d)(1)(B) of the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA Administrator to promulgate area designations “as expeditiously as practicable, but in no case later than 2 years from the promulgation of the new or revised national ambient air quality standard,” but provides for an extension of up to one year “in the event the Administrator has insufficient information to promulgate the designations.”  Indicating that he has determined that there is insufficient information Pruitt writes that additional time is appropriate to allow for complete consideration of all area designation recommendations made by governors and to rely fully on the most recent air quality data.  The Administrator further states, “This additional time will also provide the Agency time to complete its review of the 2015 ozone NAAQS, prior to taking this initial implementation step.”  In addition, Pruitt cites “a host of complex issues that could undermine associated compliance efforts by states, localities and regulated entities,” noting that as part of its review process EPA is focusing, in particular, on background ozone levels, international transport and exceptional events demonstrations.  Pruitt also advises the governors that he has established an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force “to develop additional flexibilities for states to comply with the ozone standard.”  The Administrator sums up his intention by saying, “Despite the continued improvement in air quality, costs associated with compliance of the ozone NAAQS have significantly increased.  I am committed to working with you and your local officials to effectively implement the ozone standard in a manner that is supportive of your air quality improvement efforts, without interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth.”