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With Ozone Levels Falling, Why Mess with Success?

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 14, 2015

Our new ad lays out key facts about EPA’s move to tighten U.S. ozone standards. Check it out:

Howard Feldman, API’s senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, talked about the messages in a new multimedia advertising campaign – that stricter ozone standards aren’t necessary because existing standards are making the air cleaner and effectively protecting public health – during a conference call with reporters. Chief points:

printOzone levels are down – Our air is cleaner and continues to get cleaner under 2008 ozone standards – and those aren’t even fully implemented yet. EPA data shows ground-level ozone in the U.S. dropped 18 percent between 2000 and 2013. Feldman:

“Air quality will continue to improve as we implement the existing standards. Further tightening of the standards wouldn’t necessarily improve air quality any faster, but it could significantly impact U.S. jobs and the economy. … A lower standard could, for little or no health benefit, significantly constrain our nation’s economy and eliminate thousands of jobs.”

Broad potential cost impacts – New standards at 65 or 70 parts per billion (ppb) could be the costliest regulation ever imposed on the American public. A NERA Economic Consulting study found that lowering the standards to 60 ppb – which EPA is taking comment on and could adopt – could reduce U.S. GDP by $270 billion a year and put millions of jobs at risk. Feldman:

“As proposed, the new standard could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas. Even pristine areas with no industrial activity such as national parks could be out of attainment. In fact, the proposed standard seeks to achieve ozone levels that approach or are even lower than naturally occurring levels, in some areas, which could effectively prohibit new economic activity. States would have to place new restrictions on businesses of all sizes and add additional bureaucratic red tape to the permitting process for public works projects. These new rules could prevent communities from improving their infrastructure such as highways or waste treatment facilities.”

Don’t mess with success – The Obama administration should keep the current ozone standards, which are working, rather than needlessly set up economic hurdles that could have significant impact from one coast to the other. Feldman:

“Safeguarding public health is a goal we all share, and peer-reviewed science confirms that the current standards are protecting public health and the environment. The nation’s air is getting cleaner. … If President Obama is serious about lifting up the middle class and closing the income inequality gap, the last thing his administration should do is threaten jobs and our energy and manufacturing renaissance with unnecessary new regulations.” 


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.