On October 10, 2018, EPA issued a press release announcing the new members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) who will participate in the current reviews of the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone and PM. The press release also expands the description of the Committee’s charge, as previewed in the prior NAAQS reform materials issued by the Administration, to include examination of the relative contribution of background to current ambient concentrations and consideration of the potential social, economic and energy effects of various NAAQS implementation strategies.
The press release also announced the first draft of the Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) for PM, which was released a few days later. The ISA is the comprehensive scientific document on which EPA’s decision whether to revise the current standards must be based. The new draft ISA was announced in the Federal Register on October 23, with a comment deadline of December 11. A CASAC meeting to review the draft ISA has not yet been announced, but the Committee reportedly is considering a meeting to review the draft on December 12-13.
With respect to ozone, the press release announced a series of webinar workshops the agency currently is holding to consider new studies that should be included in the new ISA. Following those a draft integrated review plan will be released for public and CASAC review. (These steps have long been completed for the PM review.) EPA is attempting, on a very short time frame compared to past reviews, to complete both the ozone and PM reviews by the end of 2020.
Separately, EPA announced that the expanded scientific review panels that have assisted CASAC in recent ozone and PM reviews have been disbanded. These review panels, which grew over time to include 12-15 members, acted as consultants to CASAC, but only the seven formal Committee members voted on the final language in advice letters to the Administrators. The large CASAC consultant panels were one of the reasons that reviews in recent years have stretched far beyond the statutorily mandated 5-year period. One principle of the Administration’s NAAQS reform policy is to stay on the review schedule and finish both the PM and ozone reviews by the end of 2020.