On June 2, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted a final rule which significantly lowers the primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (“NAAQS”) for sulfur dioxide (“SO2 ”). EPA is phasing out both the annual standard (0.03 parts per million or ppm) and the existing 24-hour standard set at 0.14 ppm, and phasing in a new 1-hour standard set at 75 parts per billion (“ppb”). The new 1-hour standard is met when the 3-year average of the 99th percentile of daily maximum 1-hour averages at each monitor does not exceed 75 ppb. EPA will transition to the new standard with overlap of the existing standards. In areas that are in compliance with the current standards (all of Louisiana), the existing 24-hour and annual standards will be revoked one year after the designations of new nonattainment areas. Designations are to be final in June 2012, so the existing standards will no longer remain effective as of June 2013.
The February 10, 2010 Federal Register contains a notice of EPA’s final decision that the Baton Rouge ozone nonattainment area “has attained the 1-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)." (The Baton Rouge area consists of the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge.) EPA found that the ambient monitoring data for 2006-2008 demonstrated attainment and noted there were no exceedances of the standard in 2009. Although this 1-hour ozone standard was revoked in 2005 and replaced with a more stringent 8-hour standard, some of the SIP requirements associated with the old 1-hour standard were continued under the Clean Air Act’s “anti-backsliding” provisions. The EPA action, known as a "Clean Data Policy Determination," formally suspends several requirements associated with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (“LDEQ’s”) State Implementation Plan (“SIP”) as long as the area continues to achieve the 1-hour standard. These suspended requirements include “a severe attainment demonstration, a severe reasonable further progress plan (RFP), applicable contingency measures plans, and other planning State Implementation Plan (SIP) requirements related to attainment of the 1-hour ozone NAAQS.”
On January 27, 2010, the SEC voted 3-2 to issue an interpretive guidance “on existing SEC disclosure requirements as they apply to business or legal developments relating to the issue of climate change.” Chair Mary Shapiro emphasized that the interpretive release is not intended to create new legal requirements, but is to clarify the requirements already applicable for reporting material risks on public disclosure statements. She was careful to avoid arguments on the science, stating: “We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, at what pace it might be changing, or due to what causes. Nothing that the Commission does today should be construed as weighing in on those topics."