Home » News » ICYMI: Newspapers in the West Are Calling for EPA to Halt New Ozone Standard

ICYMI: Newspapers in the West Are Calling for EPA to Halt New Ozone Standard

03/10/2016

Following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of a report that found that metro Denver would not comply with the new federal National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground level ozone by 2025 – and the stiff opposition the agency faced from state air regulators and business leaders recently in Phoenix, Arizona – editorial boards in the West are demanding that EPA “halt the implementation of the 70 ppb standard” and “go back to the drawing board.”

***

Daily Sentinel

“An unfair standard”: The EPA should halt the implementation of the 70 ppb standard until the agency can assure state and local officials in the West that the background ozone issue is fully understood, and that communities won’t be unfairly blamed for pollution they didn’t cause. It should have done so before deciding to ratchet down the standard to 70 ppb. Then again, if the background ozone issue had received the attention it deserved last year, EPA might have been forced to leave the 75 ppb standard in place. (Mar. 9, 2016)

***

Deseret News

“New federal ozone standards penalize Western states and hamper growth, without improving ozone levels”: This is more than just a case of nettlesome federal overreach. In a futile attempt to reduce ozone pollution that we’re not creating, local businesses will be required to cut back on activity and growth, even though such efforts will have a negligible impact on Utah’s ozone levels. … We strongly favor regulations that will have a positive impact on improving Utah’s air quality. Yet these new ozone standards do nothing of the kind. Instead, they are an empty and expensive gesture that punishes Utah and other states for California’s sins. It is time for the EPA to go back to the drawing board and draft new regulations that address the problem substantively, not symbolically. (Mar. 5, 2016)

***

Denver Post

“EPA ozone data a jolt for Denver”: However, it appears that even our warning underestimated the difficulties in complying with a lower standard, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency itself. As the Denver Business Journal recently reported, the EPA in a white paper issued in late December specifically mentioned that its modeling indicates Denver will be out of compliance with the new standard even in 2025. Indeed, Denver is one of the few places in the country projected to be above the 70 ppb mark nearly a decade from now. By the way, Denver is still not in compliance with the previous ozone standard set in 2008 by the Bush administration. … Natural background ozone from a variety of sources in the Rocky Mountain West is higher than in most regions and makes compliance with ozone rules particularly difficult. (Mar. 4, 2016)

***

State and local officials agree that the new federal ozone standard is particularly challenging for the West:

Timothy Franquist, deputy director of the air quality division at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality: “Industry is a very small portion of the sources of ozone, but at the same time, those are the ones that we can traditionally control. … So they are going to bear the hit.”

Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ): “Furthermore, it is laughable that the EPA admits it does not have a clear plan for dealing with background ozone generated by factors outside the state’s control. This means the EPA is literally attempting to punish Arizona for ozone pollution that is created in California, Mexico and even China…I applaud the Center for Regulatory Solutions for their work on this issue and for exposing the significant economic harm that will occur in Arizona as a result of EPA’s terrible new regulation.”

Colorado state Rep. Cheri Jahn (D): “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?”

Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem (R): “We suggest that the EPA should go back to a clean sheet of paper and construct a reasonable, scientifically justified ozone rule that does not do damage to the economic condition of our state and those around us so as to push it to the point of serious economic impairment.”

Garrick Taylor of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “If the EPA doesn’t account adequately for background ozone when implementing these new standards, we’re simply going to be unfairly punished in Arizona.”

NOTE: Click here to read more about the factors that make compliance with the ozone standard difficult for Western states.