Sen. Carper Voices Disappointment over EPA’s Postponement on New NAAQS Implementation

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety subcommittee, issued the following statement reacting to the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to request another delay in implementing the new national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS):


"I was disappointed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to seek another delay in implementing new ozone national ambient air quality standards which would better protect public health through cleaner air. The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision leaves thousands of Delawareans and millions of Americans unprotected from harmful ozone air pollution under an outdated, ineffective ozone standard. This decision also keeps states in limbo about what standards they need to meet, forcing them to continue to postpone significant decisions today to clean our air tomorrow. I certainly hope this is the last delay we will see on this issue from the Environmental Protection Agency and I urge the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator to move quickly to finalize their plans for the new ozone air quality standards so our nation can finally move forward to make the ozone reductions we need to achieve cleaner, healthier air." 


After reviewing more than 1,700 scientific studies, in January 2010 the EPA proposed to implement a stronger public health national ambient air quality ozone standard than the one implemented by the Bush Administration in 2008. The new standard is in the range suggested by the EPA’s panel of science advisors, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). The EPA is also suggesting a new secondary ozone standard to protect the environment. While the EPA deliberates, the 1997 national ambient air quality ozone standard stays in place. 


Ground-level ozone is formed by a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from fossil-fuel power plants, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial facilities are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs. Exposure to ground-level ozone can cause respiratory illness, long-term lung tissue damage and death. 


Over the past decade, Sen. Carper has fought to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, a pre-cursor to ground-level ozone pollution, along with other dangerous emissions – mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), through various legislative efforts.