Reports that the US Environmental Protection Agency requested more time to finalize proposed new ozone regulations signal that the Obama administration is beginning to recognize the proposals’ potentially harmful economic consequences, oil and gas and other business associations suggested on Aug. 12.
“There is no need for EPA to proceed with its reconsideration of the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” said Howard Feldman, the American Petroleum Institute’s regulatory and scientific policy director. “API hopes the administration is using this extra time to reconsider proceeding with this unnecessary reconsideration,” he said.
Feldman explained that the proposed new standards are so stringent that they would put nearly every US county out of compliance, including Yellowstone National Park and other pristine areas. “Ozone compliance levels continue to improve, and current regulations are already protecting our air and the health of our citizens. Changing the standard now could have a serious impact on economic growth.”
John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, noted, “The administration is obviously making a serious review of these damaging regulations, and we’re encouraged by that. President Obama again this week pointed to jobs as his administration’s priority, and EPA’s proposals would negate any progress in creating jobs in the private sector.”
‘Yet another setback’
National Association of Manufacturers Pres. Jay Timmons urged the Obama administration to abandon its current efforts to revise the 2008 standards until a review is required in 2013. “Piling on an unnecessary and unrealistic ozone standard would be yet another economic setback,” he said. “Studies show the proposed ozone standard could result in millions of jobs lost and $1 trillion/year in compliance costs.”
Environmental organizations, meanwhile, criticized EPA’s action. Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said the group was troubled by what he said was another delay of “a much-needed and overdue update of smog standards.” He said the longer the delay, “the greater the risk for the millions of Americans who suffer from respiratory illnesses.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council released an analysis of government air pollution data showing that about 250 communities and parks in nearly 40 states have experienced health-threatening “bad air” days this year. More than 2,000 “Code Orange” air quality alerts occurred nationwide in 2011’s first 7 months, with many areas having long stretches of days with dangerous air from higher smog levels, it said.
“The bottom line is that we have way too many days in way too many places where the air is unsafe for our kids,” NRDC Clean Air Director John Walke said. “EPA needs to quit stalling on tougher smog standards promised years ago and protect our children, our elderly, and all of us.”
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