On Friday, September 2, 2011, Cass Sunstein, of the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, returned the draft final rule, "Reconsideration of the 2008 Ozone Primary and Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards," to EPA with the statement that the President does not support finalizing the rule at this time. In his transmittal letter to EPA, Mr. Sunstein stated that the draft rule warrants reconsideration and emphasized three points. First, EPA is required to revisit the national ambient air quality standards in 2013 and the issuance of a new rule late in 2011 would be problematic because the standards are required to be revisited shortly thereafter. Second, the transmittal letter expressed concern that the currently proposed standards are based upon a review of scientific literature from 2006. Updated research is being performed which could better meet the requirements of Executive Order 13563 which states that our regulatory system "must be based on the best available science." Finally, the transmittal letter noted other recent rules promulgated by EPA to address air quality issues and quoted various executive orders regarding the regulatory system. Mr. Sunstein also described his general directive from the President to work with agencies to minimize regulatory costs and burdens.
Reaction to the decision to return the draft rule has been mixed. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Thomas Donahue issued a statement including the following: “This an enormous victory for America’s job creators, the right decision by the President, and one that will help reduce the uncertainty facing businesses. It’s also a big first step in what needs to be a broader regulatory reform effort." The Sierra Club Executive Director and the Natural Resources Defense Counsel President, among other environmental group leaders, have issued statements critical of the decision.