The Hits Keep Coming, Regulatorily

By January 6, 2010Economy, Energy, Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency will propose new, more stringent rules for ground-level ozone emissions on Thursday. The agency summarized the expected action in an e-mail advisory to stakeholders this afternoon.

BACKGROUND: Today, EPA proposed to strengthen the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog. The proposed revisions are based on scientific evidence about ozone and its effects on human health and the environment. EPA is also proposing to establish a distinct cumulative, seasonal “secondary” standard, designed to protect sensitive vegetation and ecosystems, including forests, parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas.

EPA is reconsidering the 2008 ozone standards to ensure that two of the nation’s most important air quality standards are clearly grounded in science, protect public health with an adequate margin of safety, and protect the environment.

Manufacturers were very active in commenting on the Bush Administration’s regulatory imposition in 2008 of a new, more onerous standard of 0.075 parts per million, objecting to the lack of scientific rationale or quality information justifying rules adding significant compliance costs — not just for industry but for any emitter. As the NAM’s Bryan Brendle testified in 2007, “EPA’s benefits estimates range from $2.5-$33 billion per year and the cost estimates range from $10-$22 billion per year. EPA’s estimated costs for the proposed rule are so high as to make it among the most expensive federal regulation ever issued.”

Now, before those rules can be implemented, the EPA’s new leadership seeks to raise those costs. What’s the logic? Not expensive enough?

That’s tomorrow. Today, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced guidance for the Bureau of Land Management that will make it even more difficult to access energy resources on federal lands. This “reformed oil and gas leasing policy“, Salazar said, would “improve protections for land, water, and wildlife and reduce potential conflicts that can lead to costly and time-consuming protests and litigation of leases.” No leases, no litigation, one supposes is the theory, but neither is there any progress toward national energy security.

Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute commented on Interior’s action today at EnergyTomorrow.org in a post, “New Regulatory Hurdles for Oil and Gas“:

This troubling trend of hobbling companies’ ability to develop much-needed domestic energy supplies will not create certainty for investors, as Salazar suggested. Instead it will make America more dependent on foreign energy and continue to constrain government budgets.

About 9.2 million Americans rely on the oil and gas industry for their jobs. By imposing these unnecessary additional hurdles, American jobs will be threatened along with the economic opportunities afforded by oil and gas development.

In the midst of a deep recession, an uncertain recovery and intense global competition, the Obama Administration continues to pile on costly regulations that discourage new investment and employment … at least here in the United States. The rhetoric about jobs is hard to reconcile with this regulatory excess.

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