New ozone regs would cost industry billions with very little public health benefit

The Obama administration is set to release new proposed regulations that would drastically cut back on the amount of ozone released by industry. The new rules will be issued under the authority granted by the Clean Air Act.

Ozone is a pollutant that causes smog, and affects the breathing of millions of Americans. It has already been drastically curtailed, as evidenced by much cleaner air in big cities and far  fewer smog alerts. But environmentalists believe that slashing the amount of ozone even further will improve the health of millions.

New York Times:

The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.

Environmentalists and public health advocates have praised the E.P.A. rules as a powerful environmental legacy. Republicans, manufacturers and the fossil fuel industry have sharply criticized them as an example of costly government overreach.

The proposed regulation would lower the current threshold for ozone pollution from 75 parts per billion to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion, according to people familiar with the plan. That range is less stringent than the standard of 60 parts per billion sought by environmental groups, but the E.P.A. proposal would also seek public comment on a 60 parts-per-billion plan, keeping open the possibility that the final rule could be stricter.

Public health groups have lobbied the government for years to rein in ozone emissions and said the regulation was one of the most important health decisions Mr. Obama could make in his second term.

“Ozone is the most pervasive and widespread pollutant in the country,” said Paul Billings, a senior vice president of the American Lung Association. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said, “Ozone is not only killing people, but causing tens of millions of people to get sick every day.”

But industry groups say that the regulation would impose unwieldy burdens on the economy, with little public health benefit.

“Air quality has improved dramatically over the past decades, and air quality will continue to improve under the existing standards,” said Howard Feldman, director of regulatory affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry. “The current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence for more stringent standards, and current standards are protective of public health.”

The proposed ozone rule comes as the longstanding battle over Mr. Obama’s use of the Clean Air Act to push his environmental agenda is erupting in Congress and the courts. The ozone rules are expected to force the owners of power plants and factories to install expensive technology to clean the pollutants from their smokestacks.

As Mr. Feldman points out, existing rules have been working fine, and there is no compelling evidence that drastic reductions of ozone emissions will even marginally improve the health of Americans. What the rules will accomplish is a loss of jobs. And they will make American prodicts even less competitive overseas.

The new ozone regulations are part of a massive outpouring of new regs the administration will be proposing between now and the end of the year. The regulatory burden on American business is at unprecedented levels and given the new rules on carbon emissions that are in the pipeline, that burden will only worsen.

The Obama administration is set to release new proposed regulations that would drastically cut back on the amount of ozone released by industry. The new rules will be issued under the authority granted by the Clean Air Act.

Ozone is a pollutant that causes smog, and affects the breathing of millions of Americans. It has already been drastically curtailed, as evidenced by much cleaner air in big cities and far  fewer smog alerts. But environmentalists believe that slashing the amount of ozone even further will improve the health of millions.

New York Times:

The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.

Environmentalists and public health advocates have praised the E.P.A. rules as a powerful environmental legacy. Republicans, manufacturers and the fossil fuel industry have sharply criticized them as an example of costly government overreach.

The proposed regulation would lower the current threshold for ozone pollution from 75 parts per billion to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion, according to people familiar with the plan. That range is less stringent than the standard of 60 parts per billion sought by environmental groups, but the E.P.A. proposal would also seek public comment on a 60 parts-per-billion plan, keeping open the possibility that the final rule could be stricter.

Public health groups have lobbied the government for years to rein in ozone emissions and said the regulation was one of the most important health decisions Mr. Obama could make in his second term.

“Ozone is the most pervasive and widespread pollutant in the country,” said Paul Billings, a senior vice president of the American Lung Association. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said, “Ozone is not only killing people, but causing tens of millions of people to get sick every day.”

But industry groups say that the regulation would impose unwieldy burdens on the economy, with little public health benefit.

“Air quality has improved dramatically over the past decades, and air quality will continue to improve under the existing standards,” said Howard Feldman, director of regulatory affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry. “The current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence for more stringent standards, and current standards are protective of public health.”

The proposed ozone rule comes as the longstanding battle over Mr. Obama’s use of the Clean Air Act to push his environmental agenda is erupting in Congress and the courts. The ozone rules are expected to force the owners of power plants and factories to install expensive technology to clean the pollutants from their smokestacks.

As Mr. Feldman points out, existing rules have been working fine, and there is no compelling evidence that drastic reductions of ozone emissions will even marginally improve the health of Americans. What the rules will accomplish is a loss of jobs. And they will make American prodicts even less competitive overseas.

The new ozone regulations are part of a massive outpouring of new regs the administration will be proposing between now and the end of the year. The regulatory burden on American business is at unprecedented levels and given the new rules on carbon emissions that are in the pipeline, that burden will only worsen.