EPA Publishes Notice Extending O3 Designations

June 28, 2017 EPA published in the Federal Register (82 Fed. Reg. 29,246) a notice extending, until October 1, 2018, the deadline for promulgating initial area designations under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone established in 2015.  This notice formalizes EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s June 6, 2017 announcement – via a letter to governors – of his intention to take such action.  The Administrator has cited his authority under Clean Air Act Section 107(d)(1)(B)(i) to delay promulgation of initial area designations for one year “in the event the Administrator has insufficient information to promulgate the designations.”  In the Federal Register notice, EPA states: “Following the recent change in administrations, the agency is evaluating a host of complex issues regarding the 2015 ozone NAAQS and its implementation, such as understanding the role of background ozone levels and appropriately accounting for international transport.  The Administrator has determined that he cannot assess whether he has the necessary information to finalize designations until additional analyses from this evaluation are available.  In addition, pursuant to language in the recently-enacted Fiscal Year 2017 omnibus bill, the Administrator is establishing an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force to develop additional flexibilities that could impact the designation process.  In light of the analyses currently underway at the agency, the Administrator has determined he needs additional time to consider completely all designation recommendations provided by state governors pursuant to CAA section 107(d)(1)(A), including full consideration of exceptional events impacting designations, and determine whether they provide sufficient information to finalize designations.  We also note that new agency officials are currently reviewing the 2015 ozone NAAQS rule.  The Administrator has determined that in light of the uncertainty of the outcome of that review, there is insufficient information to promulgate the designations by October 1, 2017.”