Court Extends Deadlines on Clean Air Standards
In response to a request by EPA Administrator Carol Browner, a federal court February 10 extended its previously ordered deadlines, setting a new schedule for the issuance of a revised clean air standard for particulate matter. Under the modified schedule, public comments to the agency are due by March 12, and EPA is required to issue the final rule by July 19.
The District Court of the District of Arizona granted a three-week extension, despite Browner's request, backed by a coalition of state and local government organizations, including the Conference of Mayors, for a 60-day extension. While the court only ordered action on the current particulate matter standard, EPA is also proposing to change to the current ozone standard.
Browner Defends Proposals in Senate
Just two days after the court acted, Administrator Browner testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, defending the agency's actions on the standards. "On these two pollutants, over the past three and a half years, EPA has conducted one of its most thorough and extensive scientific reviews ever. That review is the basis for the new, more stringent standards for particulate matter and ozone that we have proposed in order to fulfill the mandate of the Clean Air Act," Browner said.
The Senate panel which oversees the Clean Air Act will hold additional hearings to review further the science, health benefits and impacts of the proposed standards. The proposed revisions expand coverage of the Clean Air Act to more regions in the country, and are expected to increase burdens on areas now out of compliance with existing standards and those which have recently achieved compliance, called "maintenance" areas. EPA has conducted a review of the cost impact of these revisions on state and local governments, as required in the unfunded mandates law enacted during the 105th Congress.
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