EPA Proposes Extreme Air Quality Standards

Posted on Fri 11/28/2014 by


Darren BakstTubb_Katie_TDS_loBy Daren Bakst and Katie Tubb ~

The Environmental Protection Agency just released its proposed new standard on ground-level ozone, which is a component of smog.

Every five years, the EPA is required by law to review and, if appropriate, revise these standards.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy delivers remarks on President Obama’s climate action plan. (Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/Newscom)

In 2008, the EPA issued an ozone standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb). The new standard proposed by the EPA would decrease that level to 65–70 ppb, though the EPA is still openly considering an even lower standard of 60 ppb.

The EPA will use every reason under the sun to explain why this new standard is necessary for public health and safety. But here are a few things to keep in mind as the nation begins to discuss what such a standard could mean.

  • EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expects you to take her word for it. Announcing the proposal, McCarthy wrote: “Critics play a dangerous game when they denounce the science and law EPA has used to defend clean air for more than 40 years. The American people should know better.” This kind of bullying sets up a false choice for the American people where any disagreement with the EPA’s conclusions is equivalent to being anti-science and pro-filthy air. It shows that the EPA is not interested in open debate or disagreement with the proposed rule. In essence, she is asking Americans to suspend their reason and accept the rule “because she said so.”
  • The quality of our air has vastly improved. We’re not living in the days of the Industrial Revolution or even the days of rivers catching fire. Concentration levels of every major pollutant regulated under the Clean Air Act have decreased since the EPA started measuring in 1980 (and were decreasing before then, too). Ozone levels have decreased by 33 percent, nitrogen dioxide levels by 60 percent, sulfur dioxide by 81 percent, carbon monoxide by 84 percent, and lead by a whopping 92 percent. High ozone days in one of the nation’s worst counties, Los Angeles, have decreased 83 percent and average high ozone days around the nation have decreased 75 percent. (Figures are from the EPA’s database.)
  • The rule is premature. States are still implementing the current standard of 75 ppb. We don’t even know what kind of impact, positive or negative, this last standard will have and yet the EPA has proposed that states should already get a move on a new standard.
  • The standards proposed would throw most counties out of compliance. There are 698 counties in the U.S. monitored for ozone (using 2010–2012 EPA data). Thirty-one percent of the 698 counties with ozone monitors would fail to meet the current 75 ppb ozone standard. If the EPA went forward with a 70 ppb standard, over half of those counties would be in violation. If the EPA went forward with a 60 ppb standard, 647 of those counties, or 93 percent, would be in violation of the standard. Furthermore, a 60 ppb standard may be impossible to meet because background levels in some areas of the country have been found to regularly exceed 60 ppb.
  • McCarthy and others continue to trivialize the costs of the proposed ozone rule. McCarthy writes that America does not have “to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.” The truth is, we still don’t have a healthy economy and this rule, if Congress sits by and allows it to go through, is certainly going to hurt.

The National Association of Manufacturers has said a 60 ppb standard would be the costliest regulation in U.S. history. According to a NERA Economic Consulting study conducted for NAM, a 60 ppb standard would:

  • Reduce gross domestic product by $270 billion per year on average over the period from 2017 through 2040;
  • Result in an average annual loss of 2.9 million job-equivalents (a measurement of lost jobs, fewer hours, and lower wages) through 2040;
  • Impose $2.2 trillion in compliance costs from 2017 through 2040; and
  • Decrease average household income by $1,570 per year.

Congress should not fund the implementation of any new ozone standard and should review the air quality process to protect the health and well-being of Americans.

Congress, not this unelected and unaccountable agency, needs to make the decision regarding standards that could have such a devastating impact on the economy.

Daren Bakst studies and writes about agriculture subsidies, property rights, environmental policy, food labeling and related issues as The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/  research fellow in agricultural policy.

Katie Tubb contributes Posts at The Daily Signal, and she is a research assistant for the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/

Read more informative articles at The Daily Signal    http://dailysignal.com/