On November 17, 2016, EPA proposed regulations in the Federal Register to establish nonattainment area classification thresholds and implementation requirements for the 8 -hour ozone NAAQS adopted in 2015. The proposed regulations largely retain and update the implementing regulations that were promulgated for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS. Written comments on the proposed rules must be submitted on or before January 17, 2017.

EPA is accepting comment on a number of important policy issues including the following:

  • Nonattainment area classification thresholds and deadlines for areas to attain the 2015 ozone standard;
  • Milestone compliance demonstrations to address reasonable further progress (RFP);
  • Plan implementation deadlines for reasonable available control technology (RACT);
  • Ability to consider the emission reductions from sources within a state but outside a nonattainment area for purposes of attainment planning; and
  • Reconsideration of optional ozone NAAQS trading provisions for pollutants that react to form ozone that would allow VOCs and NOX emission reductions to satisfy nonattainment new source review permitting emission offset requirements.

EPA is also taking comment on two options for revoking the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The first option would revoke the 2008 ozone NAAQS in all areas effective one year after the final designations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS. Final area designations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS are to be issued by EPA by October 1, 2017. Under this option, EPA would establish anti-backsliding requirements for all nonattainment areas that have not obtained the 2008 NAAQS at the time of its revocation.

Under Option 2, EPA would revoke the 2008 ozone NAAQS in all areas designated attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS within one year after the effective date of designations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS. Under Option 2, the 2008 ozone standard would continue to apply in any areas designated nonattainment until the area is re-designated to attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. This is the approach being used for the most recent PM2.5 NAAQS. The 2008 ozone NAAQS implementation rule is currently being contested in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The 2015 ozone NAAQS is also being challenged before the District of Columbia Circuit.