Posted June 12, 2015
For some time we’ve been talking about EPA’s bid to make the nation’s ozone standards more restrictive.
We’ve expressed puzzlement that the agency wants to impose more stringent standards when the existing ones are working – lowering ozone levels 18 percent between 2000 and 2013 according to EPA’s own data. We’ve noted the lack of scientific and public health justification for stricter standards while highlighting potential risks to the economy. If this week’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on ozone was any measure, the issue has the attention of many in Congress.
Top EPA official Janet McCabe was peppered with questions about economic impacts, the arguable wisdom of stricter standards when areas like Los Angeles don’t meet existing standards and EPA’s push for more stringent standards before the current standards are fully implemented in the states.
Posted May 28, 2015
If implemented, the stricter ozone standards could be the costliest regulation ever, potentially reducing U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, according to a study by NERA Economic Consulting for the National Association of Manufacturers. The U.S. could see 2.9 million fewer jobs or job equivalents per year on average through 2040.
Yeah, that’s big.
Certainly, for those kinds of impacts Americans would expect them to be justified. But EPA’s proposal is starkly lacking in terms of the science and public health.
Posted May 27, 2015
With national ozone levels falling, some activists argue for stricter federal standards the best way they can – by pointing to the relatively few areas in the United States where ozone levels remain above the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb).
Yet, think about that. If an urban area like Los Angeles or Houston currently is out of attainment with the standard set at 75 ppb, how will lowering the national standard to 65 or 60 ppb – which EPA is considering – make a difference in those and other non-compliant areas? Good question.
The fact remains that the current standards are working. EPA data shows ozone levels declined 18 percent between 2008 and 2013.
Posted May 18, 2015
Sometimes, amid the back and forth of discussions over energy policy, it’s helpful to talk about the real-world impacts of various policy choices.
Right now in Pennsylvania, a proposed natural gas severance tax that would supersede the state’s existing impact fee is being debated vigorous – chiefly because the current impact fee has been good for the commonwealth, very good.
It’s been so good that some question the wisdom of swapping the current system for a severance tax – especially given a recent study showing that the net effect likely would be less energy development, resulting in billions in economic losses and nearly 18,000 fewer jobs supported by 2025. We’ve likened it to the proverbial folly of killing the golden egg-laying goose.
So, if the current impact fee has been good for Pennsylvania, can we be more specific? Yes.
Posted May 14, 2015
Our new ad lays out key facts about EPA’s move to tighten U.S. ozone standards. 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:
Ozone 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.
“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.”
Posted May 7, 2015
The oil and natural gas industry’s recent tax revenue and economic contributions to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania look like this: more than $630 million through the state’s existing local impact fee since 2012, including $224 million in 2014 alone; more than $2.1 billion in state and local taxes; annual contributions to the state economy of $34.7 billion, boosting the bottom lines of more than 1,300 businesses in the energy supply chain.
Gov. Tom Wolf, who has proposed new industry taxes, says the state is “getting a bad deal.” We suspect a lot of states would like to have things so rough.
Nevertheless, the governor is pushing for an additional natural gas severance tax of 5 percent on the gross market value of production, plus a fixed fee of 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) produced. The governor also wants an artificial floor of $2.97 per Mcf regardless of the actual price of natural gas. All suggest unfamiliarity with the story of the goose that laid golden eggs.
Posted May 4, 2015
The Colorado Petroleum Council and its new executive director, Tracee Bentley, recently opened a new office in Denver, where the council will focus on growing energy priorities in the state. A Colorado native, Bentley served as Gov. John Hickenlooper’s legislative director and senior advisor on energy and agricultural issues before coming to API. Below, Bentley talks with Energy Tomorrow about opportunities and challenges facing the council and her role as the organization’s leader.
Q: What do Coloradoans think about the state’s energy potential? Is it something people are aware of, and what do you believe they want most from industry as it develops that energy? What are the key “education” points needed to build a strong partnership between industry and Coloradoans?
Bentley: Coloradans know their state is blessed in terms of energy. And they’re aware of the importance of energy development to the state’s economy. Even with the recent downturn, oil and natural gas development remains a crucial contributor economic growth, adding $26 billion to the state economy and supporting 213,100 jobs – or nearly 7 percent of total state employment. School districts in Colorado received nearly $202 million from oil and gas production property taxes in 2012 alone, according to a study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
Coloradoans want the same things people in other energy-producing states want. They want assurances that development will be safe, and that operators will hear and respond to their concerns. The Colorado Petroleum Council helps this relationship by providing factual information on safe energy development. One of our priorities is to demystify things like hydraulic fracturing. We’re here to explain it and to reassure communities and individuals that it has been going on for decades, is an advanced, precise technology and that the combination of state regulations and industry standards is keeping energy development safe to residents, water supplies and the local environment.
Posted March 17, 2015
The job that could be lost could be yours, or the job that doesn’t materialize could be the one you had your heart set on. Both scenarios could result from lower federal standards on ground-level ozone, which EPA has proposed and is expected to finalize later this year.
A NERA Economic Consulting study lays out the big-picture impacts, that a stricter ozone regulation could reduce U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, resulting in 2.9 million fewer jobs or job equivalents per year on average through 2040.
Big numbers, but abstract. Embedded in them are potential real-world impacts for lots of Americans in terms of economic opportunity lost or denied, illustrated here on a state-by-state basis. These include businesses that might not be launched or expanded, infrastructure plans that could be shelved, such as roads and bridges. It could entail activities that communities might restrict as they try to comply with stricter ozone standards.
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.
Posted January 29, 2015
With EPA opening public hearings (subscription required) on its proposed new ground-level ozone standards, it’s important that we not let some key facts get lost in the wave of comments and anecdotes that results when there’s an open microphone available.
At issue is EPA’s plan to make more restrictive the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone, from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 and 70 ppb. The agency is collecting input until mid-March before finalizing the rule this fall.
We’ve made the case before that the existing standards are working, that our air is getting cleaner and will continue to do so with the current rule. In short, there’s no good reason to make the standards more stringent. That’s what the science shows, as experts detailed at EPA’s hearing in Washington, D.C. (here and here). Indeed, EPA’s own data shows that ozone levels have fallen 33 percent since 1980, including 18 percent since 2000.