Communities Bracing for EPA’s Ozone Rule

By March 11, 2008Global Warming

Communities that have worked for years to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s current ozone limits are now realizing they might have a lot more work to do.

EPA on Wednesday could announce plans to tighten ozone limits to battle smog. But critics contend the proposal is unnecessary because the current ozone rule is working – America’s skies are clearer. National average ozone levels plummeted 21 percent between 1980 and 2006.

A stricter rule would also cost the industrial economy $100 billion. And that could mean thousands of job losses.

Officials in Fayetteville, N.C., have worked five years to bring the area into compliance with existing smog rules. But an article in Monday’s Fayetteville Observer said the celebration could be short if EPA comes out with a stricter plan.

“They’re moving the goal post,” George Breece, chairman of the Air Quality Stakeholders Group, said in the story. “But that’s OK. Our community has proven that our plan works.”

Officials in Charleston, S.C., are also worried they could fall out of compliance under a new EPA proposal, according to a story in The Post and Courier on Tuesday. The story noted a stricter rule could discourage more industries from moving to the region, restrict road building, and eventually require vehicle emissions tests.

Mary Miller, chairwoman of a Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments environmental committee, said she wants a safe environment but is a bit bewildered by EPA’s proposal:

“I’ve lived here all my life. I know what’s here. I know there’s problems out there. I think we’re doing a good job keeping it down. I really think (South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control) and EPA don’t know what they want.”

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