In response to a congressional request, GAO examined: (1) the progress in reducing ozone levels to comply with national air quality standards; (2) the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) review of the latest data on the health effects of ozone; and (3) EPA and state and local governments' efforts to address ozone problems in three areas not attaining the standard.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|In order to build flexibility into CAA that recognizes the variety of problems areas face in attempting to reach ozone standards, and to clear up the confusion over the use of sanctions, Congress should amend CAA to establish a strategy that places nonattainment areas into different categories on the basis of their design values, emission reductions, or both, with new attainment dates for each category. Congress may wish to either establish the new attainment dates and provide criteria, or provide EPA with the authority to do so.||Congress adopted the GAO-recommended strategy as part of the Clean Air Act amendments. Improved air quality is expected to result.|
|In order to build flexibility into CAA that recognizes the variety of problems areas face in attempting to reach ozone standards, and to clear up the confusion over the use of sanctions, Congress should amend CAA to specify the conditions under which sanctions will apply, such as when an area fails to implement its plan or does not meet its attainment deadline, and the extent to which EPA has discretion in applying such sanctions.||Congress revised the sanctions section of the Clean Air Act along the lines of the GAO recommendation.|