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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

EPA Proposes Stricter Ozone Standard

We think this is a needed step forward, and will not hurt business.

Historically, we have seen clean-air acts, and other mandates around protecting the environment, actually spur economic development.  It may seem paradoxical but the data is clear and very encouraging.  Congress's push to protect our natural resources has traditionally had positive expansions of our economy.

Also, we know companies can transform, invest heavily in efficiency and make more money. At Arpin, we've done it time and time again, and we are a stronger, more profitable company, with a better global brand, because of our commitment to green.  Each and every company, in every sector, can do the same.

We applaud the new cleaner air standards that will help eradicate many of the childhood respiratory issues and, as pointed out below,  empowers us to take better control over our health and the health of our children.

Proposal Expected to Reanimate Battle Between Businesses and Environmental Groups

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday proposed lower limits for ground-level ozone, or smog, in the atmosphere, setting in motion the latest in a series of far reaching federal pollution restrictions.

The EPA proposed limiting ozone between 65 and 70 parts per billion in the air and sought comment on a standard as strict as 60 parts per billion, all which is in line with what an independent scientific advisory panel had recommended earlier this year. The current level, established in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration, is set at 75 parts per billion. The agency also said in a fact sheet on its website that it will take comment on keeping the standard at the level it is at now, a move that could give cautious hope to industry groups that had been lobbying for that.

“Bringing ozone pollution standard in line with the latest science is more than just a legal requirement; it empowers the American people,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in an op-ed published in CNNMoney, where the agency announced the proposal.

The proposal is expected to reanimate a battle between businesses and environmental groups that has been dormant for three years. In 2011, the EPA estimated that the proposed standard—set then at the toughest level the agency had yet considered—could cost utilities and other businesses as much as $90 billion a year. President Barack Obama delayed issuing it. It also estimated then that the rule would deliver up to $100 billion a year in public-health benefits.

The EPA’s estimated costs and benefits for Wednesday’s proposal are significantly less than the 2011 plan. Costs range between $3 billion and $15 billion in 2025, and the monetary value of the public health benefits range between $6.4 billion and $19 billion annually in 2025. The EPA said the standard would prevent a range of respiratory problems, especially in young children.

Environmental and public health groups have lobbied for a standard set at 60 parts per billion. Industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers, have urged the administration to not update the standard at all.

The ozone standard, mandated under the Clean Air Act, isn’t a direct regulation on business. States, however, must comply, which in turn would compel utilities, factories, refineries and other businesses and municipalities that emit smog-forming pollution—including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds—to install new pollution equipment.

Many regulations the EPA is pursuing under Mr. Obama’s direction, including a proposed standard for carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants and a mercury pollution rule facing a review at the Supreme Court, would help states and businesses ultimately meet the ozone standard, Ms. McCarthy said in the op-ed Wednesday.

The part of the Clean Air Act that the EPA uses to issue ozone limits specifically says the agency only can consider science, not cost, a standard supported unanimously by the Supreme Court in 2001.
The agency’s ozone proposal is coming a day after the Supreme Court accepted several challenges to a separate EPA regulation cutting mercury pollution from power plants. The high court will decide if the agency should have considered how much the rules would cost utilities, addressing a recurring complaint by companies about government regulations.

The EPA is proposing the ozone standard ahead of a Dec. 1 court deadline compelled by a lawsuit brought by environmental and public-health groups.

According to that timeline, the agency must issue a final standard by October of next year, a timeline the EPA said on its website Wednesday it intends to meet. However, the administration hasn’t completed writing the plan for states to comply with the standard set during the Bush administration.

“Tightening these standards could be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public, with potentially enormous costs to the economy, jobs and consumers,” Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a written statement Wednesday.

Public-health advocates say states and businesses are already beginning to comply with the 2008 standard, and note that they don’t face penalties under the Clean Air Act—including loss of transportation funding—so long as they can show they are trying to meet the limit.

“No community has ever had that happen before,” said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy at the American Lung Association, one of the groups that have sued to force the EPA to act. “The law doesn’t say you have to meet the standard. You have to be willing to act.”

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