Flash! Ozone Rules Hit Hard

By April 22, 2008Economy, Energy

From USA Today, page one: “Strict EPA rules tag unlikely areas
350 counties would violate new smog limit”

Smaller metropolitan areas — not gritty urban centers — are the most likely to be labeled as smoggy under a strict definition that the Environmental Protection Agency announced last month, an analysis by USA TODAY found.

The new limit also would ensnare many communities that contain large expanses of pristine wilderness. Places that would fall under the new ozone limit include Boise; Bar Harbor, Maine; and Biloxi, Miss.

And, according to the USA Today analysis:

  • Counties in metro areas of more than 1 million people, which now account for two-thirds of U.S. counties with unhealthy air, would account for 40% of new violators.
  • The number of high-smog counties with fewer than 250,000 people would jump from five to 47.
  • The number of smog-ridden counties with federal wilderness areas would nearly triple from 16 to 46. The total number of wilderness areas in such counties would rise to 185 from 106.
  • Many counties that face the prospect of cleaning up their air receive pollutants from elsewhere on prevailing winds. To address that problem, adjacent counties that contribute to smog will be declared in violation, too, the EPA says.

    Which is exactly what the NAM and other critics of the then-proposed ozone rules argued, that the new restrictions would hit many, many areas hard — imposing huge costs on producers and consumers for purely theoretical health gains.

    And good for USA Today and all, but this might have been a productive area to explore BEFORE the EPA promulgated its rules.

    (The NAM’s ozone resources page is here.)

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