H.R. 4775, Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016, as amended

H.R. 4775

Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016, as amended

Sponsor
Rep. Pete Olson

Date
June 8, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Molly Newell

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 4775, Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016, as amended, under a ­­­rule. The bill was introduced on March 17, 2016, by Rep. Pete Olsen (R-TX) and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by a recorded vote of 30-23 on May 18, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4775 seeks to facilitate more efficient implementation of ozone standards, and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program generally. Key provisions would:

  • Phase in implementation of the 2015 ozone standards by extending the date for final designations from 2017 to 2025, and aligning permitting requirements;
  • Revise the time for mandatory review of NAAQS from five to ten years, while allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator discretion to issue revised standards earlier;
  • Authorize the EPA Administrator to consider technological feasibility, as a secondary consideration, when establishing or revising NAAQS;
  • Direct the EPA Administrator to obtain advice from the agency’s scientific advisory committee regarding potential adverse effects prior to revising NAAQS, as required by Section 109 of the Clean Air Act;
  • Direct the EPA Administrator to issue implementation regulations and guidance concurrently when revising NAAQS, including with respect to permitting requirements;
  • Ensure that for certain ozone and particulate matter nonattainment areas, States are not required to include economically infeasible measures in their implementation plans;
  • Revise the definition of exceptional events under Section 319 of the Clean Air Act to include droughts and extraordinary stagnation; and
  • Direct EPA to submit two reports to Congress including (i) a report regarding the impacts of foreign emissions on NAAQS compliance and related matters; and (ii) a report regarding ozone formation and effective control strategies.

Background

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA has established the NAAQS for criteria pollutants, including ground-level ozone. The EPA initially established an ozone standard in 1971, and subsequently revised the standards in 1979, 1997, and 2008. The standards set in 2008 established an eight-hour standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb), replacing a 1997 standard equivalent to 84 ppb. EPA did not publish its implementing regulations for the 2008 standards until March 2015, nearly seven years after these standards had been issued by the agency.

In October 2015, EPA also promulgated a new 8-hour ozone standard of 70 ppb. Based on the most recent monitoring data, 241 counties in 33 states would violate this standard. Under the agency’s current schedule for implementing the 2015 ozone standards, states must submit designation recommendations by October 1, 2016, and EPA would designate areas as being in nonattainment by October of next year.

Because the 2008 ozone standards have not been revoked by the agency, states now face the prospect of implementing two different ozone standards simultaneously. Prior to EPA’s decision to issue the 2015 standards, nearly 700 national, state, and local organizations and stakeholders had requested that EPA retain the 2008 standards and not establish a new additional lower standard.

In addition to concerns relating to the implementation of multiple ozone standards simultaneously, general concerns with the NAAQS program have also been raised by state regulators. These have included concerns regarding the current 5-year timeline for review of NAAQS as well as the failure of the agency to consider the likely technological feasibility or potential adverse effects associated with implementing revised standards, and failure to issue timely implementing regulations and guidance.[1]

According to Chairman Upton, “H.R. 4775 introduces a dose of needed commonsense to EPA’s ozone program. It extends the implementation schedule for the new ozone standard to allow the 2008 standard to be implemented first. It would also harmonize the new ozone standard with other existing regulations that EPA projects will reduce ozone levels across the nation. Most importantly, the bill provides states with a reasonable path forward for implementing new ozone standards while also updating the Clean Air Act to make this law workable for states and communities in the years ahead.”[2]

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[1] See H. Rept. 114-598.
[2] See Opening Statement of Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Upton

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office estimate is unavailable.

Additional Information

For questions about amendments or further information on the bill, contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.