Self-righteousness and an unbridled lust for control over the lives of 307 million Americans are the hallmarks of environmental laws in America.
If the environmental activists and the Washington bureaucrats who write these regulations are wrong on such basic issues as to the major sources of air pollution, standards of effective mitigation, and the civil and criminal prosecution of air pollution offenders, wouldn't you think that would be headline news?
The LA Times, in an unexplained lapse of balanced journalism, reports that 30% of the ozone -- one of the primary components of photochemical smog, found in the skies above the Western United States during the spring -- comes from the coal-fired factories of East Asia (primarily China and India). The study, published in the journal Nature, probes a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists in the last decade: Ground-level ozone has dropped in cities thanks to tighter pollution controls, but it has risen in rural areas in the Western U.S., where there is little industry or automobile traffic. "Ozone is a difficult gas to pin down," said Cooper, who works at the Earth System Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. "The study of intercontinental air pollution has been going on for a decade, but whether it was increasing overall was uncertain. And in places where it had spiked, along coasts and in national parks, we didn't know how much was from local sources and how much was from Asia.
Cooper said they have not yet determined exactly how much of the ozone increase comes from Asia, but they found that the increase was about twice as much when prevailing winds came from South and East Asia.
Twice as much? Wow, that's a 100% increase in measurable ozone levels.
Well, not surprisingly, an increase in ozone levels triggers a response from the EPA.
Another LA Times story from January 8 gleefully sets out the EPA goals to control and further devastate the economy of California.
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the nation's strictest-ever smog limits Thursday, a move that could put large parts of California and other states in violation of federal air quality regulations.
The EPA proposed allowing a ground-level ozone concentration of between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 75-ppb standard adopted under President George W. Bush in 2008.
That means cracking down further on the emissions from cars, trucks, power plants, factories and landfills. The [ozone] emissions bake in sunlight and form smog.
Though complying with the standards could cost up to $90 billion nationwide, according to the EPA, it could also save $100 billion in health costs over time.
A 65-ppb standard -- the middle of the proposed acceptable range -- would avert 1,700 to 5,100 premature deaths nationwide in 2020 compared with the 75-ppb standard, the EPA estimates.
So the EPA and this administration believe that spending $90 billion to avert 5,100 premature deaths is good use of taxpayer's funds? A little math reveals a cost of $17.6 million to prevent each such death. Would someone ask please ask Harry Reid if under Obamacare, the government would spend $17.6 million for a citizen in the last six months of life?
Besides ratcheting up pressure on highly polluted parts of Southern California and the Central Valley, the revised standard would require several new areas to take measures to slash air pollution, including parts of the northern Sacramento Valley and the Central Coast that have been in compliance under the previous standards.
Unlike Eastern and Midwestern states, where much of the pollution comes from coal-fired power plants, three-quarters of California's ozone-forming emissions are from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, trains, ships, planes and construction equipment.
In the last three years, the state [California] has adopted the nation's strictest rules to control pollution from diesel engines in trucks and construction equipment, which emit nitrogen oxides, a precursor to smog.
The EPA's new standard could force the state to crack down further on vehicle pollution, on refineries and power plants, and even on volatile organic compounds coming from consumer products such as hair spray. Air districts also would be likely to increase efforts to control sprawl and force more concentrated land development.
The EPA cares little about pollution; the real story here is about the government's tightening control over our choices of lifestyle, our housing, our transportation, and our economic future.
"This is going to require us to look for new solutions," said Leo Kay, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board. "On the ground we will be looking for where we can tighten the screws."
Not exactly the comforting words taxpayers want to hear from a spokesperson for an unelected bureaucracy.
As for how exactly that will be done, he acknowledged, "We don't have all the answers yet."
The EPA also proposed setting a "secondary standard" to protect plants and trees from repeated smog exposure during growing season, a move environmentalists said would help national parks, forests and sensitive ecosystems.
From the abstract in the Nature, Dr. Cooper neatly sums up the problem.
We suggest that the observed increase in springtime background ozone mixing ratio may hinder the USA's compliance with its ozone air quality standard.
Science tells us that west coast ozone levels are increasing -- in fact doubling in the spring -- due to the coal-fired factories in Asia. The EPA is further decreasing the threshold for ozone levels in California, which triggers more controls on our economy and freedoms. So no matter how draconian the controls on California industry, California can never meet the EPA standards. This rigged system of flawed regulations must be stopped before the strangulation of commerce and the loss of personal freedoms permanently condemn this country to becoming a second tier, European, socialist nanny-nation.