EPA admits mistake, moves to reinstate Ohio air quality rule

By Sean Reilly | 02/22/2024 01:40 PM EST

The “air nuisance rule” repeal effort originated in 2019 at the prompting of an industry lawyer.

photo collage with smokestacks depicting EPA air nuisance rule in Ohio

Environmental groups were puzzled when EPA in 2020 struck an "air nuisance rule" from the approved version of Ohio's clean air plan. Claudine Hellmuth/E&E News (illustration); Mrs Gemstone/Flickr (smokestacks); court documents (text)

EPA officials, conceding a failure to follow their own procedures, are moving to reinstate an Ohio air quality safeguard scrapped in 2020 at the surreptitious prompting of an industry lawyer.

In a newly proposed rule, EPA’s Chicago-based Region 5 office seeks to restore an “air nuisance rule” to the state’s clean air plan that had furnished Ohioans a legal foothold to sue polluting businesses in federal court. In explaining its latest about-face, EPA says that it “failed to adequately consider” the air nuisance rule’s use in enforcing National Ambient Air Quality Standards and also did not conduct an anti-backsliding analysis of the potential impact.
a newly proposed rule

The reversal comes a year after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to allow the agency to revisit the 2020 decision in response to a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and other challengers.
to allow the agency


“We’re quite pleased,” Sierra Club attorney Megan Wachspress said in a Wednesday interview. Assuming that EPA follows through and restores the air nuisance rule, Wachspress said, Ohioans suffering pollution will again be able to “vindicate their rights and protect themselves.”