Posted June 15, 2016
In the wake of a June jobs report variously described as “weak,” “lousy” and “abysmal,” regulations that stifle job growth seem more ill-advised than ever. That includes the Obama administration’s ozone rules, which could be as economically damaging as they are unnecessary.
Ozone levels dropped 18 percent between 2000 and 2013 even before states fully implemented existing standards. Our air is already getting cleaner.
Yet the EPA ignored the science and released new regulations last fall that could place 958 counties – that’s one-third of all U.S. counties – out of attainment and subject to costly mitigation measures.
To comply with standards approaching or below naturally occurring levels of ozone, states could be required to restrict everything from manufacturing and energy development to infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. Even if job growth were strong, saddling states with unachievable requirements would be questionable policy at best. In an economy still struggling to add jobs, new ozone regulations that impact such a wide range of job creators – and promise little to no public health benefit – make no sense.
In addition to success in cutting ozone emissions, the United States leads the world in reduction of carbon emissions, due largely to greater use of clean-burning natural gas. Methane emissions are falling, and aggregate national emissions of six common air pollutants have fallen an average of 63 percent since 1980. Technological innovation and industry efforts can continue to make progress in reducing emissions without costly government regulations that could jeopardize economic growth.
The House passed bipartisan legislation last week to provide commonsense approaches for implementing national ambient air quality standards and setting new standards. Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Protecting states from unnecessary regulations and removing hurdles to job growth should be a top priority.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jack N. Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. He also has served as the president and CEO of trade associations representing the chemical and mining industries. Jack understands how Washington works. He spent several years working in the U.S. Senate and House, and co-founded a Washington-based government relations consulting firm. A native of Idaho, Jack also is very active in the Boy Scouts of America, a university graduate program on politics, and his church’s leadership. He and his wife are the proud parents of eight children, including twin boys adopted from Guatemala.