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Ahead of EPA Phoenix Workshop, CRS Releases Report Finding that EPA is Regulating Ahead of Science, Unprepared to Assess Impact of Background Ozone

02/23/2016

New ozone standards should not be implemented until issues with background ozone are properly understood

Washington D.C. – Ahead of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workshop on background ozone in Phoenix, Arizona this week, the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS), a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, today released a new report that highlights significant concerns with the EPA White Paper on background ozone. CRS commissioned a technical review of EPA’s White Paper, which concludes that EPA is regulating ahead of science, and that new federal air quality standards should not be implemented until issues with background ozone are properly understood and quantifiable.

The defects uncovered in EPA’s White Paper suggest that the agency is not adequately informed about the actual role of background ozone, and as such several states will find themselves unable to meet new 2015 ozone NAAQS standards. CRS’ review found that the agency used too narrow a scope to assess the impact of background ozone in Western states, and failed to take into consideration studies that concluded that background ozone can account for up to 93 percent of the 70 ppb NAAQS in certain states. Many state leaders from both parties and state air regulators have raised these very issues, whether it be the Western Governors Association, WESTAR, or Colorado Governor Hickenlooper.

“EPA’s White Paper on background ozone is further proof that the administration is simply out of step with the science of air pollution, which also means they are out of touch with state regulators and leaders across the West on implementation,” said Karen Kerrigan, president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. “The EPA should listen to these leaders and hold off on implementing the new ozone standard until the Administration fully understands how background ozone is transported and how it can accurately be accounted for.  Failure to do so is unfair to Western states and will cause significant economic harm to local economies and businesses.”

In addition, EPA’s White Paper includes an admission that the Denver metro area will be unable to meet EPA’s new strict ozone standards by 2025 because of background ozone. The EPA finds that Denver is the only region outside of California that will be unable to meet the standard by 2025. State Senator Cheri Jahn recently told the Denver Business Journal, “This is just setting us up to fail.  I think we’re being set up. There’s too much going on around the state, and when you have all that background ozone coming into the state, I don’t know how we’re going to deal with it. When it’s already known that Colorado can’t make it, then is the goal to help states become more ozone friendly? Or is to punish them?” This follows specific concerns raised by top Democratic lawmakers in Colorado last summer, including Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Michael Bennet, warning that EPA’s new stringent standard does not account for background ozone in the Denver area.

EPA will be holding a workshop in Phoenix, Arizona on February 24 and 25, 2016 to discuss background ozone with state air regulators and stakeholders. This setting is particularly noteworthy as Arizona, like Colorado, suffers from high background ozone levels that will force the majority of counties in the state into non-attainment. CRS will be participating in this workshop and discussing the findings of its report.

Key Report Findings:

 

About CRS

The Center for Regulatory Solutions is a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, a 501c(4) advocacy, research, education and networking organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For twenty-three years, SBE Council has worked to educate elected officials, policymakers, business leaders and the public about policies that enable business start-up and growth.

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