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CRS Praises One-Year Delay in Implementing Job-Destroying Ozone Rule

06/07/2017

Washington D.C., – Karen Kerrigan, President of the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS), a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, today released the following statement in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that implementation of the stringent 2015 ozone standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) will be delayed by one year:

EPA clearly listened to the bipartisan outcry from governors, local elected officials, state air regulators, and small businesses who noted that the new ozone standard is unworkable and would unfairly burdened communities, especially in the West, for ozone pollution beyond their control. This welcome delay will provide states with the opportunity to fully implement and comply with the 2008 standards, without having the goal post suddenly moved.

For years CRS has raised numerous concerns with how the EPA would account for ‘background ozone’ and I’m pleased that Administrator Pruitt is poised to finally give this issue the attention it deserves. Hopefully this delay will give the EPA time to work with the states on a permanent, common sense solution that provides economic certainty and protects the jobs of hardworking Americans.”

Background

The new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, finalized by the EPA in October 2015, have drawn widespread bipartisan opposition from federal, state, and local elected officials, as well as editorial boards, business and industry groups, and others who warned of the difficulties in complying with the tighter ozone standards and the job and economic losses that would occur

Since 2015, CRS has raised alarms and issued repeated warnings over the issue of background ozone – pollution that crosses over state lines, is imported from foreign countries, or the result of natural occurring events such as wildfires – and how it will make compliance for many Western states impossible. CRS conducted in-depth analysis on the impact of the 2015 ozone standard in counties in Colorado and Arizona – and found that several will be in non-attainment due to background ozone. Another report by the CRS highlighted the unfair burden places on the Intermountain West due to background ozone. CRS also submitted comments to EPA highlighting flaws with how they are accounting for background ozone.

In a quietly released Whitepaper in December 2015, EPA admitted it didn’t know how to adequately account for background ozone and even admitted that Denver cannot reach new standard until 2025 because of background ozone. As a result, in Colorado both Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper have expressed deep concern over the rule. And they are not alone.

The Western States Air Resources Council (WESTAR,) a Seattle-based group representing 15 air quality regulatory agencies from many Western states raised concerns over background ozone, particularly those sources that originate in “Mexico, Canada, or Asia.” The National Park Service also raised questions about the new standard which could cause Grand Canyon, Sequoia, and Big Bend to be designated as non-attainment areas due to background ozone.

As the EPA announces a one-year delay, bipartisan legislation is also working its way through Congress to provide relief to states. Legislation by Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) would delay enforcement of the 2015 ozone standard until 2025 and extend EPA’s timeline for reviewing NAAQS from five years to ten years. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX).

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.