Trump administration officials said Friday they’re considering a repeal of former President Barack Obama’s rule dramatically reducing ozone pollution levels.
Department of Justice attorneys asked the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reschedule arguments in a lawsuit against the Obama rule for later this month while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviews the law.
“EPA intends to closely review the 2015 rule, and the prior positions taken by the agency with respect to the 2015 rule may not necessarily reflect its ultimate conclusions after that review is complete,” the attorneys wrote.
President Donald Trump has not weighed in on the regulation, but Republicans believe the rule — which reduces the allowable concentration of ozone to 70 parts per billion from the previous 75 — would hurt the economy and become a millstone around the energy industry’s neck. It is costly.
EPA estimated lowering allowable ambient ozone concentrations would cost $2 billion, including California’s compliance costs. The agency said the benefits of the ozone rule range from $3.1 billion to $8 billion, but most of those benefits come from reducing fine particulate matter, not lower ozone levels.
Ozone, which is linked to respiratory ailments like asthma, is a byproduct from burning fossil fuels and can be found in smog.
The Trump administration’s request comes after a coalition of Republicans and Democrats pushed legislation in February aiming to roll back EPA rules on ground-level ozone, essentially targeting the agency’s most expensive rules. (RELATED: Congress Could Block One Of Obama’s Most Expansive Regulations)
The bill would push back the implementation date of the smog standard until 2025 if passed. It would also require the EPA to submit a report to Congress on how pollution from China and other countries impacts the rule.
Trump issued an executive order March 26 directing the EPA and other agencies to dial back regulations that limit the production and use of coal. The ozone rule was not mentioned specifically as a target of that order.
The memo directs EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review and work to repeal or revise the so-called Clean Power Plan, a rule forcing the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025. Trump also requested the agency to rescind the Department of the Interior’s moratorium on coal mining leases on federal lands.
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