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Flake Wants Open Meeting for EPA AZ Ozone Regulations

24 February 2016   Elizabeth Berry
Flake Calls on EPA to Open Entire AZ Ozone Regulation Meeting to Public

Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) today expressed concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to restrict public access to portions of a workshop being held today and tomorrow in Phoenix to hear concerns over the agency’s proposal for a costly, new standard for ozone – a pollutant that can be caused by uncontrollable factors such as natural weather patterns, wildfires, and international emissions.

EPA’s new proposed ozone standard, which is so stringent that ozone emissions outside of Arizona’s control may put the state in non-compliance, is expected to cost $1.4 billion annually, according to the agency’s own estimates. During the workshop, local stakeholders will be allotted time to share concerns related to cost and compliance issues, but EPA has prohibited the public from attending a portion of the workshop in which the agency will discuss the rule with state regulators.

“It’s encouraging that EPA has agreed to come to Phoenix to hear firsthand how – without commonsense changes – its proposed ozone rule could devastate Arizona’s economy, but I share stakeholders’ concerns that that some of the most important discussions are set to take place behind closed doors,” said Flake.

Background: On Nov. 17, 2015, Flake introduced S.J. Res. 25, a resolution that would permanently halt the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently finalized rule on ozone, which would cost billions of dollars annually.

On March 3, 2015, Flake introduced S. 640, the Ozone Regulatory Delay and Extension of Assessment Length (ORDEAL) Act, which would give the EPA more time to review and revise air quality standards, ensuring a more certain regulatory environment for state air-quality agencies and businesses. Specifically, the bill would extend the EPA’s existing timeline to review and revise NAAQS and air quality criteria from five-year intervals to 10-year intervals. To ensure that the standard for ozone is also on this more realistic 10-year cycle, the bill would also prohibit the EPA from finalizing, implementing or enforcing a revised ozone standard until 2018.

On June 3, 2015, Flake appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to testify in support of the ORDEAL Act.