On October 1, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) adopted stricter regulation on ozone emissions that will fall heavily on California, and most particularly on the transportation sector, including airlines. The new standard strengthens limits on ground level ozone to 70 parts per billion (“PPB”), down from 75 PPB adopted in 2008. The EPA’s action arises from the mandate of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), from which the EPA derives its regulatory powers, 42 U.S.C. § 7409(a)(1), and which requires that pollution levels be set so as to protect public health with an “adequate margin of safety. 42 U.S.C. § 7409(b).
The change has inspired significant controversy throughout the country, but most particularly in Southern California which purportedly has the nation’s worst air quality and has already failed to meet previous ozone standards. The issues arise out of the likelihood that the new standards will require steep emissions cuts falling most heavily on the transportation sector including trains, trucks, ships and, not least, aircraft.