Court Upholds Air Quality Rule Against Oil Industry Challenge

Court Upholds Air Quality Rule Against Oil Industry Challenge

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court has upheld new air-quality standards that limit nitrogen dioxide near major roads, dismissing a challenge from the oil and natural gas industry that claimed a set of standards adopted in 2010 were more stringent that necessary to protect public health.

Tuesday's ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia marks a win for the Obama administration and environmental groups that supported the two-year-old standards for nitrogen dioxide, or NO2.

The Environmental Protection Agency's rule imposes a one-hour limit of 100 parts per billion. The rule is intended to prevent short-term peaks of smog-forming NO2 in the air, usually occurring near major roads where there's a lot of car exhaust.

The agency said at the time that short-term exposures to NO2--ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours--resulted in more respiratory illnesses and asthma symptoms.

The lawsuit had been brought by the American Petroleum Institute, the major lobbying arm of the oil and natural gas industry. The API claimed the rule was illegal because it went beyond what was needed to protect public health.

"By cherry-picking data and relying on questionable science, EPA set the new regulations at a level more stringent than necessary to protect public health and is putting our economy and jobs unnecessarily at risk," API director Howard Feldman said in a statement.


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