WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw the ozone national Ambient Air Quality Standards draft. These standards would have set rules for ground-level ozone emissions, but now the EPA will have to revisit creating a draft for these standards in 2013.

The EPA originally submitted the draft, called the "Reconsideration of the 2008 Ozone Primary and Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards," to the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on July 11. A letter from OIRA directs the EPA's Administrator Lisa Jackson and EPA staff to reconsider the rule and revisit the standards in 2013.

Vehicles emit the majority of ground-level ozone, specifically in the form of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions reacting with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ground-level ozone has been found to contribute to respiratory problems. The EPA has also found that this pollutant damages ecosystems and vegetation, reducing crop yield in the U.S. by an estimated $500 million in production each year. (For more on NOx emissions sources and statistics, check out Automotive Fleet's Encyclopedia entry here.)

President Obama’s statement for the reasoning behind this decision involves reducing the regulatory burdens on businesses and waiting on an update on scientific data related to the ground-level ozone standards:

“At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and 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.”

By Greg Basich