EPA held its hearings on proposed ground-level ozone standards yesterday in Atlanta, Chicago and Houston. Your basic AP story covers the ground with a reasonable balance, including this argument from NAM President John Engler.
Some industry groups contend that the stricter ozone guidelines would cost billions of dollars and spike the prices for energy and consumer goods.
“These challenges will become more intense if new ozone standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency are mandated,” said John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers.
He added that “taxpayers and businesses cannot afford to bear this unnecessary burden.”
Again, the ailing and asthmatic received attention, making the case for a world without pollution, or at least without ozone.
But again, from what we can tell, these sufferers — and we do not dispute or dismiss their maladies — come from areas that are NOT in compliance. Does making the standards even more restrictive, even more unattainable — on the basis of disputed methodology — do anything to improve their plight? “Now you’re really out of compliance! So there!” Some level of psychological comfort, perhaps.
The Edison Electric Institute, which was represented at the hearings yesterday, covered the issue very well in its June release. The statement came from John Kinsman, director of air quality programs:
EPA is being prudent by soliciting comments on a range of potential ozone standards, including the possibility that the current standard be left in place. The agency needs to make sure that any additional requirements imposed on states and local communities – many of which would be incurring the substantial economic burdens associated with failing the standard for the first time – will produce real public health benefits.
Many states still are struggling to comply with the existing ozone standard – 442 counties currently fail to meet it, and this number could more than double under a more stringent standard. Some areas have indicated that they won’t be able to achieve the current standard no matter how hard they try.
In order to meet a tighter standard, states will have to seek emissions cuts not just from large industrial facilities, like utilities and refineries, but from a wide range of smaller sources throughout the country, including factories, paper mills, gas stations, small businesses, and cars and trucks. It’s conceivable that restrictions could be imposed on everything from large sources to lawn mowers.
At what costs? For what benefits?
UPDATE (9:40 a.m.) And we’re making progress toward achieving the current standards. From the Houston Business Journal.
“The current ozone standard is working to clean the air and will cut power plant emissions in half by 2015 and vehicle emissions by 70 percent by 2030, according to the EPA — even as our economy grows,” said Tony Bennett, chairman of TAM.
Bennett said the new standard could balloon the current $100 billion budget for reducing ozone emissions, taking funds away from what he calls the best work in Texas: high-paying manufacturing jobs.
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