The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Ozone Regulatory Revolving Door

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 3, 2015

Politico reports (subscription required) that the White House Office of Management and Budget on Friday finished review of EPA’s final rule to set state implementation plan requirements for the agency’s 2008 ozone standards.

Here’s the significance of that piece of wonky news: Even before EPA has finished telling the states how to implement the 2008 ozone standards, the agency already is well into setting new, potentially stricter standards. Regulation for regulation sake? It would be hard to find a better illustration.

Indeed, EPA is proposing to tighten the existing ozone standards – not yet fully implemented – from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 and 70 ppb. Yet, that existing standard is bringing ozone levels down, making the air cleaner and healthier – without risking harm to the economy, possibly lowering U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year.  EPA’s own data shows that ozone levels have fallen 33 percent since 1980 and 18 percent since 2000:

epa

Yet, EPA charges on toward stricter standards, which are without scientific or public health justifications. In short, there’s no good reason for making the standards more stringent – especially when the existing, effective regulation still is being implemented.

It’s the wrong way to manage public policy. The proposed standards could approach or be lower than naturally occurring ozone levels, thus potentially restricting just about all economic activity.  Howard Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs, during a conference call with reporters last week:

“Needless to say, operating under such stringent requirements could stifle new investment. After all, it is precisely new investments that create jobs – the jobs that underpin our economy. … We need policies that make sense. We have many already in place. We need to let them work before adding more.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.