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Judge rules EPA must move forward with ozone determinations

Agency’s deadline is April 30, 2018

Posted March 14, 2018

On March 12, 2018, a judge for the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California ordered EPA to move forward with its initial area air quality designations under the 2015 national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone. The court’s summary judgement against EPA shows there is no dispute that EPA missed its October 1, 2017, deadline to set the ozone designations.

On November 6, 2017, EPA said it would announce the final attainment designations for the ozone standards for “close to 90 percent of the country.” However, the Agency decided to hold off on issuing designations for the remaining 10 percent and to address them in a future action. EPA had wanted to work with states and the public to assist them with technical issues.

The judge told EPA it must issue the ozone designations by April 30, 2018, except for a few areas near San Antonio, Texas. EPA must promulgate those designations within 127 days of the Court order.

Air quality designations are important because they determine if a state, or area within a state, is meeting its air quality obligations under the Clean Air Act. Areas that do not meet the standard are designated as being in “nonattainment,” and may have to meet strict air permitting requirements.

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