Attorney General Brnovich announced today that Arizona, along with four other states, recently filed a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Final Rule revising the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (“NAAQS”, or “ozone standard”).
The EPA recently published the new Rule that lowers the ozone standard to an unreasonable level that will have little to no effect on the quality of life for most Arizonans. The Rule will also cause serious financial harm to those states that are unable to comply, including the potential loss of highway funds.
“We all want clean air, however, reducing the ozone standards to 70 parts per billion will be nearly impossible for Arizona to attain,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “The new Rule completely ignores Congress’ intent that the EPA set ozone levels for the states that are actually attainable. The financial stakes for this state are enormous if we are unable to comply and I am going to do everything within my power as attorney general to protect Arizona.”
The EPA previously updated the ozone standards in 2008.
The 2015 ozone standard is extremely challenging for the State of Arizona in that the largest source of ozone-causing emissions are vehicles. In the United States, only the federal government and California have the authority to set vehicle emission standards. This leaves Arizona with almost no reasonable emission reduction options, particularly in rural counties where ozone is more related to transport from other states and Mexico.
Ultimately, a small group of industries will pay the price for the ozone standard, yet they contribute very little to ozone-forming pollutants.
The five states joining the ozone standard lawsuit include the Department of Environmental Quality on behalf of Arizona, Arkansas, the Environmental Department on behalf of New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. The EPA published the Final Rule on October 26, 2015.