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Washington Responds to Bipartisan Calls from Across the Country for Ozone Regulatory Relief


Responding to calls by state and local officials from across the country, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at finally providing job creators relief from the burdensome 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone.

Announced last Wednesday, The Ozone Standards Implementation Act, is already the second attempt this year to reform the 2015 Ozone NAAQS, proof that Congress is finally heeding states’ longstanding opposition to the expensive and unachievable standard.

Over the last two years, The Center for Regulatory Solutions’ (CRS) work has shown that the rule’s impact on the economies of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Arizona, Virginia and Illinois will be as far reaching as it is severe.   The job loss that is expected to coincide with the implementation of the 2015 standard has inspired lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as well as business and civic groups to make their opposition known.

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The Center for Regulatory Solutions strongly supports this targeted and effective legislation and will monitor the bill as it progresses in both the House and Senate.

What the Bill Does

If passed, The Ozone Standards Implementation Act will provide the straightforward relief state officials have been calling for by pushing back the implementation of the 2015 ozone standard until 2025. Delaying implementation is an a­­­ll benefit no cost solution, since a delay would not impact the country’s air quality gains (which are already locked in by the 2008 ozone standard) BUT would protect job creators and businesses from bearing the cost of simultaneous implementation of both standards.

The Ozone Standards Implementation Act also proposes changing the statutorily-mandated ozone standard review period from every five years to every ten years.  This will be most welcome by states that can’t keep pace with the EPA’s constant churn of complex red-tape.  The need for this change is amply demonstrated by the fact that states only received the 2008 ozone implementation guidance seven months before the new 2015 standard was announced.  Lastly, the bill calls on the EPA to consider technological feasibility when revising standards.

In Washington, Bipartisan Support for Bill

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are rallying behind the bill, calling it “a commonsense bill [that] provides relief from the EPA’s burdensome ozone standard requirements.”  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is especially enthusiastic, and applauded the proposed legislation, stating:

“I’ve always said we need to strike a balance between the environment and the economy and the Ozone Standards Implementation Act will do just that… We must hold the EPA accountable and streamline these overreaching regulations that have been crippling West Virginia’s economy.”

Sen. Capito, a long-standing champion of ozone regulation reform, touted the legislation as an effective means to combat West Virginia’s “job losses and economic devastation” and to “provide more clarity, more regulatory certainty, and ease the economic burden of never-ending overreach.”

In the Senate, Sen. Capito is joined by co-sponsors Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Manchin (D-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and in the House Rep. Olson is joined by Reps. Bill Flores (R-TX), Bob Latta (R-OH) and Rob Bishop (R-UT).

Longstanding Opposition to the 2015 Ozone NAAQS

Dubbed the “most costly regulation ever,” state lawmakers, unions, air pollution control agencies, and editorial boards have all questioned the wisdom and rationale behind the 2015 ozone NAAQS.

For example, Colorado’s Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet has warned that the EPA’s proposal “doesn’t make any sense,” while Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) said it would be a “great idea” to suspend implementation.  Similarly, Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) and Steve Beshear (D-KY) have raised concerns about the feasibility of the standard.

Politicians aside, the AFL-CIO, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA), and editorial boards at the Albuquerque JournalThe Columbus DispatchDenver PostGrand Junction Daily SentinelLas Vegas Review-Journal and The Oklahoman have all come out against the 2015 standard.

The consensus across the political spectrum, across local governments, and across diverse economic sectors is that the current federal ozone standard is unattainable. CRS encourages Congress to pass the Ozone Standards Implementation Act and provide states with the regulatory relief and certainty they have been looking for.

About CRS

The Center for Regulatory Solutions is a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, a 501c(4) advocacy, research, and education organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For twenty-four years, SBE Council has worked to educate elected officials, policymakers, and the public about policies that enable business start-up and growth. The group has led an array of successful policy initiatives and campaigns to strengthen the ecosystem for America’s entrepreneurs.