The NAM is a member of the Ozone NAAQS Litigation Group, which filed a petition for review 5/27/08 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the validity of the EPA's final regulation lowering certain ozone limits under the Clean Air Act. The American Lung Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and others are also challenging the rule, and are expected to argue that the EPA did not follow the advice of their scientific advisers to issue a tougher standard. All the petitions have been consolidated under the caption, Mississippi v. EPA.
On 3/19/09, the D.C. Circuit granted an unopposed motion to vacate the briefing schedule and hold the consolidated Ozone NAAQS cases in abeyance while the new Administration considered whether to change the standards. In September, 2009, EPA reported that it was reconsidering the rule, and proposed revisions in January, 2010, for public comment. It intended to complete this process by the end of 2010. The NAM filed comments in March (see link below).
On April 4, 2011, the court denied our motion to begin briefing those issues that were not the subject of reconsideration, and refused to order EPA to complete its reconsideration proceeding by the July 29, 2011 date by which EPA indicated it planned to take final action. EPA forwarded a final rule to the Office of Management and Budget in July. Five of the petitioners in this case moved 8/8/11 for a court order directing EPA to complete reconsideration immediately. The NAM coalition opposed this motion because the deadline for EPA to review the 2008 Ozone rule has not yet passed, and it need not act by any specific date. We also asked the court again to renew the briefing on this litigation.
On Sept. 2, President Obama announced that he was requesting that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft ozone standard at this time. OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein sent a letter to EPA explaining the reasons that he was sending the proposal back to EPA for reconsideration, including that "a new standard now is not mandatory" and new scientific work is underway and will be based on the best available science. Later that day, EPA filed a notice with the D.C. Circuit saying it "no longer expects that it will take final action to complete its reconsideration of the 2008 ozone NAAQS in the near future." It filed a revised motion to govern further proceedings on Sept. 12, seeking to resume briefing.
On Feb. 17, 2012, the court issued a briefing schedule calling for petitioners' briefs by April 17, EPA's response by July 2, intervenors' briefs supporting EPA by July 23, and final briefs by Aug. 27. Oral arguments are scheduled for November 16, 2012.
The Ozone NAAQS Coalition filed its brief in April 17. Key arguments include: (1) the EPA's finding that increased protection results from a lower standard is insufficient, as a matter of law, to establish that the revision is "requisite" under the statute, (2) new health evidence in 2008 does not materially differ from earlier evidence and does not support revising the standard, (3) the risks now are no greater than they were under the earlier standard, and (4) EPA misrepresented and used selective results from the latest clinical and epidemiological studies.
Our coalition filed a separate brief in July as intervenors in support of EPA defending challenges from environmental groups that the ozone standard is not stringent enough. The NAAQS standard for ozone is now at .075 ppm, and the studies EPA considered in setting this level did not support lowering it below .070 ppm, as demanded by the challengers. A clinical and some epidemiological studies did not produce any statistically significant results for levels below .080 ppm. We also supported EPA's decision regarding exposure and risk assessments.
The NAM filed a reply brief on Aug. 13 reiterating our position that the EPA did not have sufficient evidence in the record to justify its conclusion that the public health risk from ozone was any different in 2008 than it was in 1997 when it set the last ozone standard. It failed to justify why the 1997 standard was no longer “requisite,” as required by the statute, to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. The agency also failed to rely on air quality criteria that accurately reflect the latest scientific knowledge, and set secondary standards based on the defective primary standard.