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Senate joins fight to postpone new ozone standards

Two Republicansenators released a bill April 28 to delay implementation of new federal ozone standardsafter House lawmakers introduced similar legislation in March.

U.S.Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., filed the bill, whichis titled the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016. Much like the legislation, H.R. 4775, theSenate bill would give states until Oct. 26, 2024, to designate which areas arein attainment or nonattainment with the U.S. EPA's ground-level ozone standardsreleased in October 2015. The EPA would have another year after that to promulgatefinal attainment designations, and states would be required to submit implementationplans no later than Oct. 26, 2026. Under EPA's rule, the agency set a deadline torelease final designations for the new standards in 2017, with attainment requiredbetween 2020 and 2037.

Boththe House and Senate ozone bills would also extend the current five-year intervalbetween the EPA's mandatory reviews of National Ambient Air Quality Standards forozone and other criteria pollutants to 10 years.

Lawmakerscritical of the 2015 ozone regulation, which established a maximum ozone level of70 parts per billion compared with the prior concentration of 75 ppb, point outthat states will have to comply with 2015 standard while implementing the 2008 standards.The EPA did not publish implementing regulations for the 2008 standards until March2015. Despite criticism of the new ozone limits from many industry groups, the EPA'sinternal analysis only shows fivegenerating units will likely need to take additional measures to help bring nonattainingcounties into compliance using a 2025 baseline.