|OMB Sets Six Meetings on Final Ozone Standards|
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will meet with advocacy groups at least six times during the next two weeks to discuss EPA’s final decision on the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone. OMB is reviewing EPA's final rule on whether to revise or retain the current standards of 75 parts per billion, set in 2008 under former President George W. Bush. In November 2014, EPA proposed to revise the current standards to somewhere in the range of 65 ppb to 70 ppb, a proposal that was criticized by both industry groups that would like to see the current standards retained and environmental groups that want the EPA to push ahead with even more stringent standards. The final rule was submitted to OMB on August 28, giving the administration just over one month to review the rule before an October 1 court-ordered deadline for EPA to make its final decision.
The OMB's website lists the following six meetings on the ozone rule:
• Sept. 8 — the NAAQS Implementation Coalition, which consists of trade associations, companies and other entities that are challenged by implementation of national ambient air quality standards;
• Sept. 10 — the American Forest & Paper Association, which signed onto industry comments which argued the EPA's proposal to revise the ozone standards is not warranted based on existing health effects data;
• Sept. 11 — Phillips 66, a multinational energy company that urged the EPA in comments to retain the current standards;
• Sept. 14 — the American Lung Association in Michigan, a state chapter of the national public health organization, which has repeatedly urged the EPA to set the ozone standards at a level no higher than 60 ppb;
• Sept. 15 — the American Lung Association in Virginia; and
• Sept. 16 — the National Association of Manufacturers, which has been one of the leading industry voices against the EPA's ozone proposal.
The ozone rule is one of three major EPA air rules currently under OMB review that are scheduled to be issued soon. OMB also is reviewing a final rule to establish emissions standards for brick and ceramics kilns and a final rule to revise air toxics standards covering refineries. Consent decrees that settled litigation over those rules call for the brick sector rule to be signed by September 24, while the refinery rule must be signed by September 30. More information on the OMB's review of the ozone rule is available at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoDetails?rrid=125456.