U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) commended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's agreement last week to re-examine and revise the Exceptional Events Rule, which was criticized as being too broad and vague in fining Arizona municipalities for uncontrollable events impacting air quality.
Congress amended the Clean Air Act 10 years ago to ensure that jurisdictions were not held responsible for violation of federal air-quality standards based on natural events beyond their control—known as “exceptional events”—such as Arizona’s wildfires and frequent dust storms, resulting in the 2007 Exceptional Event Rule.
Objections to the rule based on perceived imprecision were previously addressed by Flake’s Commonsense Legislative Exceptional Events Reform (CLEER) Act – in three sessions of Congress. Flake testified in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to support the CLEER Act in June.
“After years of living under the threat of unfair penalties due to uncontrollable, naturally occurring events such as dust storms and wildfires, I’m pleased Arizona stakeholders will have their say in devising what I hope will be a commonsense Exceptional Events Rule that takes into account the natural climate and terrain of our state,” Flake said.
In announcing its decision to revisit the rule, the EPA said it will host a public hearing on Dec. 8 at the office of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in Phoenix to discuss simplifying the legislation.