The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can’t keep up with the pace of its own regulatory schedule. That is not intended to be a slight on the agency or its staff, it’s a fact stemming from a combination of factors – NGO lawsuits, a President with an overly aggressive regulatory agenda and an out-of-date environmental statute that requires review of air quality standards before they are even implemented. If the regulators can’t keep pace with their own regulations, I assure you manufacturers – who need to make investment decisions looking years into the future – can’t either.
While the rate at which air regulations are issued and then revised and then issued again has been a problem for several years, the issue is being amplified as the Administration considers new ozone regulations that could be the most expensive environmental regulation issued in this era of the Clean Air Act. The EPA last issued new ozone standards in 2008 and still has yet to issue its final implementing regulations for the 2008 standard. Meanwhile, the agency is under court order to consider revising that still-unimplemented standard by December of this year. And because of the five-year review requirement for all National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), after the agency issues this round of new ozone standards, it will almost immediately have to begin work considering still newer (and likely stricter) ozone standards. This never ending cycle of regulations, reviews and new regulations adds to a regulatory environment where the uncertainty of what the new requirements will be is becoming almost as burdensome as the actual regulations. This isn’t working. Something needs to change.
Senator Flake’s (R-AZ) Ozone Regulatory Delay and Extension of Assessment Length Act of 2014 would provide some necessary relief to manufacturers by setting NAAQS reviews on a ten-year cycle. This makes sense. From 1980 to 2012, emissions of the six principal air pollutants the EPA regulates has dropped by 67%. By EPA’s own estimates, ozone precursor emissions are expected to drop another 25% from current levels – in part because of a slew of other regulations that still have not been fully implemented. Adding another layer of new regulations now will only add costs and uncertainty to a manufacturing sector that, if permitted to, will continue its renaissance driving economic growth and jobs in the process.
Manufacturers need our elected officials to provide some relief to a regulatory system that has truly become an ORDEAL to keep up with. For that reason, the National Association of Manufacturers commends Senator Flake for his leadership in proposing this commonsense bill and encourages all U.S. Senators to follow suit and support this effort.