By Jeryl J. Olson, Eric E. Boyd, and Craig B. Simonsen

In a September 2, 2011 Presidential statement, President Obama said “after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time. Work is already underway to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013. Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.”

In July 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had submitted a draft final rule, “Reconsideration of the 2008 Ozone Primary and Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” for review by the Presidential Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). On September 2, 2011, along with the Presidential statement, a letter from the OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein was sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson returning the rule to the EPA for reconsideration, and “made it clear that [the President] does not support finalizing the rule at this time.”

The OIRA letter indicated that the draft final rule warrants further reconsideration by EPA. The response emphasized three related points:

  1. The CAA explicitly sets out a five-year cycle for review of national ambient air quality standards. “The current cycle began in 2008, and EPA will be compelled to revisit the most recent standards again in 2013. The new scientific work related to those forthcoming standards has already started (see point 2 below).”
  2. “The draft reconsideration necessarily depends on the most recent recommendations of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which in turn rely on a review of the scientific literature as of 2006.”
  3. “EPA has taken a series of strong and unprecedented steps to protect public health by reducing harmful air pollution in general and ozone in particular.”