Ozone Standard Announced Today Dismisses Vast Bipartisan Opposition10/01/2015
New 70ppb Standard Will Come at Cost to Jobs and Economic Growth
Washington D.C., – Today, Karen Kerrigan, President of the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS), a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, released the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s announcement that he will dramatically tighten the federal ozone standard from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb), set in 2008 and only recently implemented, to a standard of 70 ppb:
“President Obama’s decision to dramatically tighten the ozone standard will hit small businesses and their employees hard. While the pain could have been even more acute with a tighter standard, this rule will mean fewer jobs and less economic opportunities in communities across the US.
“Sadly, President Obama sided with pressure groups over the vast number of state and local officials of both parties, business and labor groups and state air regulators who urged him to continue to reap clean air benefits by enforcing the existing standard.”
The change is expected to have far-reaching economic consequences that have been highlighted by CRS in a series of state-focused reports on impacts of the regulation, including for Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In making this decision, the President dismissed bipartisan concerns from elected officials, business and labor groups as well as state regulators and public health experts who pushed back on the standard and urged the Administration to maintain and fully implement the current standard.
Overwhelming Opposition Came from Civic and Business Groups, Environmental Regulators, Public Health Experts and Organized Labor
- State and Local Elected Officials: Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) warned that EPA’s proposal “doesn’t make any sense” and is “not going to work.” Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) and Steve Beshear (D-KY) raised their own concerns. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Regional Councils – which collectively represent 19,000 cities and mayors, 3,069 counties, and more than 500 regional councils – called on the EPA to retain the existing ozone standard.
- Labor Groups Opposed EPA Changing the Standard: The AFL-CIO, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), are among numerous union and labor groups who urged President Obama to keep the current standard in place.
- State Environmental Air Regulators Express Concerns: According to the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA), a majority of states raised concerns about their ability to meet tighter standards, due in large part to background levels of ozone. While EPA claims that their “exceptional events exclusion” is responsive to this concern, many states believe that EPA’s tools to address these concerns are limited and inadequate. These concerns are spread throughout the U.S. and are not limited to a specific geographic region.
- Public health experts: Roger McClellan, past chair of the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory committee and Professor Tony Cox of the Colorado School of Public Health have poked holes in EPA’s purported health benefits claims. Researchers at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have addressed many of the assertions made by the EPA.
- Editorial Boards: The Albuquerque Journal, The Columbus Dispatch, Denver Post, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Las Vegas Review-Journal and The Oklahoman have penned editorials critical of the proposal.
Elected Officials from Both Parties are Introducing Legislation
- Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill that would allow local areas to enter into “Early Action Compact Plans” with EPA to take early action to prevent a non-attainment designation. Senator McCaskill said the bill “provides a pragmatic and reasonable path forward to help guard Missourians’ health, and Missourians’ livelihoods, while not accepting the false choices of jobs or the environment.”
- Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), along with Congressmen Pete Olson (R-Tex.) and Congressman Latta, introduced the “Clean Air, Strong Economies Act” (CASE Act), which would prohibit EPA from promulgating new standards until 85 percent of areas in “non-attainment” with the current 75 ppb standard come into compliance. It would also require the EPA Administrator to “take into consideration feasibility and cost” when establishing new standards.” Introducing the bill, Senator Manchin said, “We need the EPA and our federal government to work with us as allies, not as adversaries who continually implement onerous regulations and move the goalposts before we even have a chance to comply.”
- Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Congressman Gene Green (D-Tex.), and 135 of their colleagues in the House, sent EPA a bipartisan letter, calling its proposed ozone standard “costly,” “burdensome,” and “technologically difficult,” and asking EPA Administrator McCarthy to retain the current standard of 75 ppb.
Majority of Voters Oppose Lowering the Ozone Standard
- The Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS) uncovered a significant flaw in a poll released by the American Lung Association (ALA)claiming “overwhelming support” from the public for EPA’s ozone proposal. When CRS ran exactly the same poll with one extra question – how much are voters willing to pay – the ALA’s claims of public support quickly eroded.
- When participants were asked about how much they would be prepared to pay for a tighter ozone standard, support for the EPA’s ozone proposal plunges. CRS polling found that 72 percent of the public are unwilling to pay more than $100 a year. Roughly half that number – 36 percent – said they would not pay anything at all. Therefore, when asked about a study that estimates the cost per household at$830 per year, a majority of voters oppose the EPA’s plan outright.
Even President Obama Acknowledged Issues with the Proposal:
- Speaking at a Business Roundtable event, President Obama affirmed the concerns of state officials who are concerned that standards approaching background levels of ozone will be impossible to comply with. He also rebutted claims made by ALA and the NRDC who have argued that it is illegal to consider costs saying there are “legitimate economic issues that have to be considered.”
CRS will continue to highlight the economic implications of burdensome federal regulations on our nation’s small business owners.
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.