Manufacturer’s Priorities at the Ozone Hearings

By August 30, 2007Energy

Safe to say that manufacturers were outnumbered at today’s EPA hearings in Philadelphia and Los Angeles on the proposed, more restrictive ground-level ozone regulations. But it’s the persuasiveness of the science and economics that should carry the day, not the emoting of activists. And on the science and economics, we’re confident of our case.

Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, testified in California. His testimony is here in .pdf form. Jack walks through the case for maintaining the current standards as both environmentally and economically appropriate, and it’s certainly worth reading. But he makes a point about manufacturing’s commitment to cleaner air that we’ve neglected in earlier posts on ozone. Since activists are always impugning the motives of business, it’s worth noting the reality.

I am proud to say the manufacturers I represent are doing their part to make the air cleaner here in California. I would also add that CMTA and our member companies frequently partner with the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the various air districts in California, including the South Coast Air Quality Management District here in Southern California, to find ways to achieve both cleaner air and a healthy economy to serve a population that grows by 500,000 citizens each year.

In just the past year, CMTA member companies have worked with the regulatory agencies I just mentioned to reduce emissions from oil storage tanks, to reduce diesel emissions, to reduce emissions at our ports, to advance fuel cell technology, to reduce freight train emissions and to improve the environmental quality in the San Joaquin Valley.

The NAM’s Bryan Brendle, bumped from his flight west, testified in Philadelphia. His testimony is here. His conclusion:

There is no sound policy justification for changing the current standard. EPA’s current ozone standard continues to improve air quality nationwide and will continue to do so, according to the agency’s own studies. There is disagreement surrounding the methodologies EPA used to draw its justification toward consideration of a more stringent standard, and the EPA concedes that a high degree of uncertainty surrounds the estimated costs and benefits of a more stringent standard. Because there is less doubt that a more stringent standard will further undermine the competitiveness of the nation’s most dynamic and innovative economic sector, the EPA should preserve the existing standard.

The AP has just moved its story on the hearings. Fair snapshot.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • John Walke says:

    I would like to invite — no, challenge in the spirit of intellectual debate — the National Association of Manufacturers to explain why it is not unlawful and impermissible for EPA to act on NAM’s urgings to consider cost and economics when reviewing and revising the ozone health standard.

    As NAM well knows, Justice Scalia writing for a unanimous Supreme Court has ruled that EPA is prohibited from entertaining cost and economics when setting the health-based air quality standards under the Clean Air Act. This ruling rejected an expensive, lengthy and ultimately frivolous (9-0?) legal campaign by NAM and other industry parties that served to delay and deny important public health benefits to the American people for many years.

    Yet NAM and the same industry parties are at it again more than 10 years later, urging EPA to consider economics rather than health science exclusively. This NAM blog and the two sets of linked testimony invoke economic/cost arguments no fewer than 14 times in urging EPA to ignore and nullify the Clean Air Act and Supreme Court ruling. (With most of Mr. Brendle’s testimony devoted to economic appeals, it’s hard even to assign a number there.)

    As to the argument in both sets of testimony that existing federal regulations will adequately reduce ozone over the next two decades, that of course misses the point since the current standard is unprotective. And disbelief and exasperation are the only possible response to these arguments, since members of NAM or other industry associations opposed — usually through lawsuits — every one of these federal regulations that are now being heralded. The argument that the 1997 ozone standard has not been given the chance to work yet is even more over the top, since lawsuits by NAM et al. were most responsible for delayed implementation of that standard. Ultimately, all of these arguments are points suited to later implementation of a new standard, not its revision.

    The attacks on the scientific judgments of CASAC and EPA in these testimonies are at least in the right (legal) ballpark, but it’s telling how scant these arguments are. I look forward to industry’s careful explanation of why the industry scientists on the unanimous CASAC panel were just wrong.

    In the meantime, I commend NAM for this blog, the posting of this testimony, and the ability to post public comments here. In the spirit of reciprocity and give-and-take, I invite members of NAM to my NRDC blog, at I urge anyone to post comments there.

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