The Environmental Protection Agency in October postponed its announcement of new federal ozone limits, avoiding the politically damaging reports before Election Day. Yet another report about the EPA’s plans to crack down on economic activity would not have helped the Administration’s prospects.

The EPA’s proposed rule could drop the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone from the 75 parts per billion limit established by the Bush Administration in March 2008 to as low as 60 ppb.

The economic impact of the EPA’s proposal is one of the most under-reported stories in the United States today. Thankfully, at least one newspaper, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, has taken advantage of the EPA’s delay to examine what the rules could mean to the local economy.

We could quibble with the article, but at least the paper is trying to explain the impact of the EPA’s threat. From “Air rules could force changes here“:

New federal air quality rules, expected in the coming weeks, will likely trigger a wave of emission controls on industries in Southwest Florida, and the possibility of motor vehicle inspections….[snip]

Southwest Florida’s air quality barely meets current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, and with those thresholds set to rise, the region will be forced to put better curbs on air pollution.

Or businesses could relocate to a region that doesn’t face the additional limits. Or move to another country all together.

The Herald-Tribune cites the joint National Association of Manufacturers and American Petroleum Industry’s study conducted by the Manufacturers/Alliance MAPI, “Economic Implications of EPA’s Proposed Ozone Standard (ER-707).” The study reported that reducing the ozone standard to 60 parts-per-billion could destroy 7.3 million U.S. jobs and reduce the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $687 billion in 2020. (More from API.)

And even more than the Bush Administration’s limits, the EPA’s latest proposal has thin scientific justification and could even be counterproductive when it comes improving the health of the U.S. populace.

The EPA’s jobs-killing plan is likely to be announced in January, perhaps during one of the slow news periods to avoid a sharp political backlash. In the meantime, other papers could follow the Herald-Tribune’s example and try to inform their readers about the impact of the ozone rules. The NAM stands ready to help with those explanations.

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