EPA air proposals should recognize progress, API official says

The US Environmental Protection Agency should recognize progress that is continuing before it considers imposing costly new air quality requirements, an American Petroleum Institute official suggested.

The US Environmental Protection Agency should recognize progress that is continuing before it considers imposing costly new air quality requirements, an American Petroleum Institute official suggested.

“In the next few days…we expect EPA to issue its proposal for the 5-year review of Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” API Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director Howard J. Feldman said on Nov. 25.

“We’re urging the agency to include the current standards, which were set in 2008 at 75 ppb, in the range they consider for a new rule,” Feldman said.

States have barely begun implementing the 2008 standards, which are the most stringent ever, Feldman said. “In fact, EPA’s implementation guidance for the 2008 rule has not yet been released,” he said. “We should let states finish implementing the current standards before we start proposing new ones.”

Current health studies have not identified a compelling need for stricter requirements, he said. “The challenges of meeting new standards would be massive and disruptive to the current plans already under way by states and the EPA,” Feldman said.

He said for a 60 ppb primary ozone standard, which is one option EPA is considering, 94% of the US population lives in areas that would be out of compliance and subject to new emissions reduction rules.

“Almost every state in the union could have nonattainment areas, which could necessitate new restrictions on businesses of all sizes and additional bureaucracy on the state and local levels,” Feldman said. “Needless to say, operating under such stringent requirements could stifle new investment necessary to create jobs and grow our economy.”

Controls and technology required to lower emissions to such low levels do not exist, and EPA has provided no contingency plan for meeting lower standards, he added.

Feldman noted that the US oil and gas industry already operates under stringent rules, as well as its own standards and practices, which have helped it to steadily improve safety and reduce environmental impacts.

“Our fuels are much cleaner today, and so are our facilities,” he said. “Indeed, that’s a primary reason why so much national progress has been made over the decades improving air quality. EPA emissions data confirm this.”

The US can build on this progress without moving to stricter standards that EPA may propose, Feldman said. “Ultimately, with a fair analysis of the record, we believe retaining the existing 75 ppb standards will be the right policy choice,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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