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Colorado Governor: 'Concerned’ About Ozone Rule’s Potential Impacts

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 1, 2015

Surely, more state governors soon will echo the concern of Colorado’s John Hickenlooper for the potential economic impacts on his state of stricter ozone standards proposed by EPA. That is, any governor concerned about what it could mean for growth and progress if large chunks of his or her state were declared out of compliance.

In Colorado, that could be more than $19 billion in gross state product losses from 2017 to 2040 and nearly 11,000 lost jobs or job equivalents, according to a study by NERA Economic Consulting:

colorado

Most of Colorado could violate new ozone standards set at 65 parts per billion (ppb), down from the current 75 ppb  (including monitored counties in red and unmonitored ones that likely would be in violation based on spatial interpolation, indicated in yellow). Non-compliance could block economic expansion; federal highway funds could be frozen – negative results that generally grab a governor’s attention. Hickenlooper:

“I’m still very concerned. … I’ve heard (from) both sides that there isn’t sufficiently clear evidence that this is a significant health  hazard. … To set up a standard where you know you’re not going to be able to achieve it, and obviously we’re at a unique disadvantage because we’re a mile high.”

In the video below, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado voices similar concern:


Unfortunately, Colorado and the entire country could be headed down this road with EPA’s proposal now entering the Obama administration’s final phase of review. This map shows the state of ozone compliance under the current 75 ppb standards:

current

And this one shows that much of the country would be non-compliant with standards set at 65 ppb:

stricter

In all, according to EPA data, 94 percent of the country’s population would live in places that exceed the 65 ppb standards and would be subject to emissions reduction requirements. According to and updated NERA study, at 65 ppb U.S. GDP could be reduced by $1.78 trillion from 2017 to 2040, with 1.4 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040. It could cost the average U.S. household $896 per year in the form of lost consumption.

Now, reconcile those potential costs with EPA data that shows ozone levels declined 18 percent since 2000 and that our air would continue to get cleaner without risking harm to the economy and the lives of individual Americans.

Even so, new standards are being rushed through a shortened review, just one month before a court-ordered due date of Oct. 1. API’s Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs:

“We are surprised the administration is limiting interagency review of what could be the most expensive regulation ever. EPA’s proposal to tighten the ozone standards would fall on top of current limits that are already improving air quality. The nation’s air is getting cleaner, and air quality will continue to improve as we implement the existing standards. We urge the administration to allow the current standards to continue working.”

More Feldman:

“EPA should listen to the many public officials who have expressed concern with this regulatory effort. As proposed, the new standards would 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. Operating under such stringent requirements could stifle new investment and threaten jobs.”

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.