Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the 2008 primary Ozone air quality standard, effectively rejecting arguments from all parties involved in the case. And thus, we are essentially where we were the day before. EPA is already in the midst of their five-year review of the ozone NAAQS, and the Court ruling should ensure that they do not have to rush the process. Yet some groups are pressuring EPA to complete the review faster. Why? If the most recent Court decision taught us anything, it is that ozone is a very complicated rulemaking process that requires rigorous and thorough evaluation. Shouldn’t all stakeholders encourage the Agency to take the time to get it right? What is the benefit to the environment, public welfare or the economy to carelessly rushing through a rulemaking, particularly one as complicated as the ozone NAAQS?
EPA recently sent a letter to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) indicating a longer timeline than initially anticipated for the ozone rulemaking in order to ensure there is sufficient time to adequately consider the issue. Subsequently, some groups have sued the Agency, hoping to force the Agency into settlement negotiations and compel an expedited rulemaking timeline. Again, why? The trail of EPA regulations over the last several years is littered with instances of ‘sue-and-settle’ rulemakings that ended up undermining the quality of the policies and exacerbating regulatory uncertainty (see Boiler MACT, CSAPR etc.).
Lowering the Ozone standard has the potential to be the most expensive regulation ever administered against manufacturers (EPA estimated as much as $90 billion per year for the 2010 reconsideration). With literally millions of jobs at stake, I struggle to see the logic in trying to making the Agency rush the process.