When Must EPA Set Ambient Air Quality Standards? Looking Back at NRDC V. Train

By Oren, Craig N. | UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

When Must EPA Set Ambient Air Quality Standards? Looking Back at NRDC V. Train


Oren, Craig N., UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


  I. THE ORIGINS OF NRDC v. TRAIN
 II. THE NRDC LITIGATION AND OPINION
III. THE AFTERMATH
     A. Setting the Ambient Standard for Lead
     B. Implementation of the Ambient Air Quality
        Standards
     C. Did the Standard Accomplish the Goals of
        NRDC?
IV. CONCLUSION

At our conference at UCLA on the Clean Air Act and climate change in April 2011, Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity described what she thought could be accomplished if the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were to set national ambient air quality standards for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (Act). (1) These standards, she explained, would establish a target concentration of greenhouse gases in the outside atmosphere we breathe (e.g., 350 parts of carbon dioxide per cubic meter of air). (2) States would then prepare State Implementation Plans (SIPs) that would detail the steps they would take to meet those standards, such as establishing controls on major sources like power plants or altering land use laws and management to decrease reliance on the single-occupancy motor vehicle. (3)

As I have explained elsewhere, there are many disadvantages to setting ambient air quality standards for greenhouse gases. (4) For example, the ambient standard system would take a long time--roughly ten years--to be put into place. There would be controversy and room for litigation about the exact level at which the standard should be set, a question over which there is already a great deal of debate. Once set, the standard would doubtless be challenged in court, further delaying implementation. SIPs would likewise be subject to administrative and legal challenges. One nationally-known expert on the Act, now a lawyer in private practice, has told me that if he were being paid to hinder regulation of greenhouse gases, he would want EPA to go down the ambient standard path. (5)

The difficulties of setting ambient air quality standards for greenhouse gases would be justifiable--just as ambient standards are for other important air pollutants--if the standards could be effectively implemented. But this is not the case. Ironically, both the Act's stringency and laxity play a role. Presumably, EPA would set both health-based and welfare-based ambient air quality standards (primary and secondary standards, respectively) because it has found that greenhouse gases endanger both health and welfare. (6) Under the Act, states must demonstrate that nonattainment areas meet health-based standards within ten years after being designated as nonattainment. (7) But decreasing concentrations of greenhouse gases takes much longer because some greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, stay in the atmosphere for prolonged periods and even centuries. (8) The consequence is that EPA would either have to approve plans that it knows will not meet the standard or demand plans with draconian measures that still might not be effective. In addition, the ten-year period for attainment would focus direction on short-term steps, such as energy efficiency initiatives, and not on long-term measures, such as altering land use policies, which might prove more effective over time.

The environmental community could possibly agree to ignore the ten-year deadline, although maintaining such an agreement among the large number of potential challengers to EPA would not be easy. But there is little that the community can do to cope with the other obstacle: section 179B of the Act. (9) This provision--inserted at the behest of Texas Senator Phil Gramm in 1990 as solace to El Paso, which is near the Mexican city of Juarez (10)--requires EPA to approve a state plan if it would show attainment but for emissions emanating from outside of the United States. Thus, because foreign nations emit three-quarters of all greenhouse gases, a state could gain approval of a plan that would not do much to reduce emissions. (11)

Therefore, setting and enforcing ambient air quality standards is likely to be a tail-chasing process that would gain little. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

When Must EPA Set Ambient Air Quality Standards? Looking Back at NRDC V. Train
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.