The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Stricter Ozone Rule = Nonattainment for North Carolina

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 14, 2014

Earlier this month the National Association of Manufacturers issued a report measuring the potential impacts of a new, stricter ground-level ozone air quality standard that’s being proposed by EPA. The estimated national results are economically devastating: reduction of U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year, 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040 and potentially increased natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and households.

The picture is the same on a state-by-state basis. Over the next few days we’ll highlight some of the individual state impacts from the report, starting with North Carolina (click on the chart for the PDF):


The map shows that every North Carolina county except one would be in nonattainment or non-compliance with an ozone standard of 60 parts per billion (ppb), which is being considered to replace the current 75 ppb standard. Counties in red are those with ozone monitors located in them; those in orange are unmonitored areas that could be expected to violate the 60 ppb standard based on spatial interpolation.

The potential economic costs to North Carolina are significant. The state could see $150 billion in gross state product loss from 2017 to 2040 and 127,360 lost jobs or job equivalents per year. On a practical level, manufacturers wouldn’t be able to expand to counties in red or orange unless other businesses shut down, and federal highway funds could be frozen.  

North Carolina would be part of the bigger national picture that could see 94 percent of the nation out of compliance with a 60 ppb ozone standard:


NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons writes this week in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that no other regulation comes close to “rendering this level of self-inflicted and ultimately unnecessary economic pain.”  Timmons notes that EPA has identified just one-third of the controls and technologies that companies and state governments would need to implement the new standard – the other two-thirds referred to as “unknown controls.” The standard could impact power plants, factories, heavy-duty vehicles and passenger cars, he writes – even as the country’s air continues to get cleaner under the 75 ppb standard. Timmons:

At 60 ppb, the progress accomplished by manufacturers and states will be rendered largely irrelevant, as nearly every state in the union will find itself immediately in nonattainment. At levels that low, even America's national parks would be in nonattainment. Under the best of conditions, the standards could be set so low that attainment in areas with no cars or industrial activity would be nearly unachievable. Now is not the time to sacrifice millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in pursuit of dubious benefits and unreachable targets. The EPA should put on the brakes and allow the existing ozone standards to be implemented.

Howard Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs:

“We recognize that EPA has a statutory duty to periodically review the standards. However, the current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence for more stringent standards. Tightened standards could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas. These could be the costliest EPA regulations ever.”


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.