WASHINGTON – Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) introduced the Early Action Against Ozone Act Tuesday, a bill that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to work with local governments to lower pollution before they violate the Clean Air Act.
“Local governments that want to work with the EPA to lower pollution shouldn’t have to wait till pollution is already a problem in their communities before they are credited for reducing emissions,” Sen. Lee said. “The Early Action Against Ozone Act would empower local communities to work with the EPA before ozone levels reach unhealthy levels in their communities.”
“Ozone is a serious threat to human health. Under current law, the EPA can only work with local governments when ozone levels have already reached unhealthy levels,” Sen. Romney said. “Our bill will authorize the EPA to engage in partnerships with those local communities which are at risk of elevated ozone emissions before those unhealthy levels have been reached. Prevention is less expensive and more conducive to protecting the health of Utahns and all Americans.”
In 2002, the EPA initiated the Early Action Compact (EAC) Program to give communities at risk of violating the EPA’s ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) the option of entering into a cooperative early action agreement with EPA before they actually violated the NAAQS. This program had success: 13 out of the 14 areas that voluntarily opted into this program were successful in improving air quality and avoiding a “non-attainment” designation entirely.
Unfortunately, EPA scrapped the EAC Program in 2017 due to ligation, which argued that the program was outside EPA’s authority under the CAA. This bill would give clear authorization and direct EPA to implement a similar program to the EAC so that other areas throughout the country can have the option of taking early action to improve air quality.