Spanking EPA's authority

News ARTBA July 08, 2002
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A U.S. Appeals Court ruled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to extend federal Clean Air Act attainment deadlines based on the theory of "ozone transport."


Under the Clean Air Act, areas that exceed national standards for ozone are classified according to the severity of their problem and given corresponding deadlines to improve the situation. For example, moderate nonattainment areas had to meet the national ozone standard by 1996 and severe nonattainment areas had to meet the standard by 2005 and 2007. Several areas, however, failed to meet their deadlines and EPA granted extensions because it was determined their problems had to do with ozone emanating from other areas.


The July 2 court ruling blocks EPA from granting extensions and will require the agency to "bump up" areas that do not meet their deadlines into the next classification level.


According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the ruling has ramifications for transportation construction since reclassified areas must implement additional pollution control measures, which include programs that will reduce vehicle miles traveled, such as shifting resources from highway projects to transit.


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