EPA delays efforts to impose illegal regulation

CSE Foundation today applauded reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will delay until next year a decision designating several central-Texas metropolitan areas as violating the eight-hour ozone standard. The EPA has threatened to cut off highway funding for cities such as Austin, Tyler and Longview — even though the courts ruled last year that the eight-hour standard was unconstitutional and unenforceable. None of these cities is currently in violation of the Clean Air Act.

“Perhaps the EPA finally realized what the courts meant when it said the eight-hour standard was ‘legally unenforceable,’” said CSE Foundation Director of Environmental Policy Patrick Burns. “Until now, this rogue agency has tried to force this illegal regulation on states and municipalities regardless of the court’s decisions.”

In 1997, the EPA issued a new rule for urban ozone, replacing the one-hour standard with an eight-hour standard. The eight-hour rule would have put most of the country into non-attainment under the Clean Air Act, and cost more than $60 billion a year.

Although EPA promised dramatic health improvements, it later conceded — based on scientific evidence produced by CSE Foundation — that the number of lives saved by the new regulation could be as low as zero. In 1999, the courts ruled that the new standard constituted an appropriation of congressional authority. EPA is currently appealing that decision to the Supreme Court.

“Hopefully the EPA has recognized that it has absolutely no authority to enforce this rule. It’s about time this agency stopped acting as though the Constitutional separation of powers does not exist,” Burns concluded.