The Environmental Protection Agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The Environmental Protection Agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Adam Parent/Shutterstock.com

Upcoming Ozone Rules Don't Have Many Fans

Environmentalists are ready to be disappointed by the EPA’s new standards, but manufacturing groups won’t be happy either.

En­vir­on­ment­al­ists have been burned by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion be­fore on smog reg­u­la­tions. Now they’re wor­ried that it’s about to hap­pen again.

The En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency is un­der a court or­der to fi­nal­ize a rule tight­en­ing stand­ards for ground-level ozone by Oct. 1. That’s the same air-qual­ity rule that was pulled by the White House in 2011 over eco­nom­ic con­cerns, a move that left the en­vir­on­ment­al com­munity in­censed.

Deep in­to a second term where Pres­id­ent Obama has been ag­gress­ive on en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues, the ozone rule won’t be yanked again. But en­vir­on­ment­al­ists are now gird­ing them­selves for an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment: that the stand­ard won’t be tight enough.

Sources fa­mil­i­ar with the dis­cus­sions say that the EPA is push­ing to lower the ozone stand­ard of 75 parts per bil­lion to 70 ppb, the high end of the 65-70 ppb range that the agency pro­posed last fall.

The White House could lower the fi­nal stand­ard down to 68 ppb, a seem­ingly minor tweak, but one that could re­quire dra­mat­ic­ally more pol­lu­tion con­trol. With days to go be­fore a de­cision comes out, en­vir­on­ment­al­ists are mak­ing the case that 70 ppb just won’t be enough, even as they pre­pare for it.

A 70 ppb stand­ard “would be a be­tray­al of the Clean Air Act’s prom­ise of healthy air and a be­tray­al of the mil­lions of kids and seni­ors and asth­mat­ics who will not re­ceive the pro­tec­tion that doc­tors say they need by such a stand­ard,” said Dav­id Bar­on, a man­aging at­tor­ney for Earthjustice.

Bar­on said there was a “good like­li­hood” that his group could sue the EPA if such a stand­ard was is­sued.

The ozone stand­ard sets the lim­it for ozone pol­lu­tion, or smog, and re­quires states that vi­ol­ate the level to craft com­pli­ance plans. Ozone has been linked to asthma, res­pir­at­ory dam­age and a host of oth­er health im­pacts.

Busi­ness and in­dustry groups have long op­posed any bid to lower the stand­ard, say­ing that it would plunge too many areas of the coun­try in­to non­at­tain­ment status. Com­ply­ing with the rule would re­quire states to craft plans that cut down on pol­lu­tion from cars and in­dus­tri­al sources, adding up to a rule that op­pon­ents say would be the most ex­pens­ive in his­tory.

Ross Eis­en­berg, vice pres­id­ent of en­ergy at the Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Man­u­fac­tur­ers, said that his group had not done an ana­lys­is of what would hap­pen un­der a 70 ppb stand­ard, but that any­thing be­low the cur­rent stand­ard would be a blow to its mem­bers. He did not say wheth­er NAM would con­sider a chal­lenge over a 70 ppb level, but ad­ded, “we’d have to do a lot of work to fig­ure out what this means for our mem­bers and what the costs would be.”

“What I do know is that 68 ppb is markedly worse than 70 [ppb],” Eis­en­berg said. That seem­ingly small dif­fer­ence, he said, would re­quire new tech­no­logy to be ad­ded to man­u­fac­tur­ing sites and that more areas of the coun­try would be out of at­tain­ment.

Op­pon­ents have pushed hard on purple states and mod­er­ate politi­cians in a bid to turn them against the stand­ard.

But pub­lic-health groups say that the coun­try has too long been stuck on a 75 ppb stand­ard that’s in­suf­fi­cient for pub­lic health (it was first set un­der the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, and greens sued be­cause they felt it was not tough enough). The EPA’s sci­entif­ic ad­vis­ory board, which ana­lyzes sci­entif­ic lit­er­at­ure on pol­lu­tion, said last year that 75 ppb was in­suf­fi­cient for pub­lic health, and that vul­ner­able groups such as chil­dren or the eld­erly would see pro­tec­tion only at 60 ppb.

That’s the level where most of the mes­saging and lob­by­ing from the Left has centered, even after the EPA didn’t in­clude it in the pro­posed range that the agency was con­sid­er­ing.

They’re used to dis­ap­point­ment on this. Ahead of the 2012 elec­tions, the White House yanked its last re­view of the ozone stand­ard over con­cerns that it would dam­age the eco­nomy. The move drove a deep wedge between en­vir­on­ment­al­ists and the White House, and has left them frus­trated on ozone.

John Walke, clean air dir­ect­or for the Nat­ur­al Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil, said that there’s still hope that, with a few days to go, the White House will lower the pro­pos­al, say­ing it would be “be­wil­der­ing that ad­min­is­tra­tion would set an un­pro­tect­ive level … after hav­ing so many years to get this right.”

“The mes­sage,” he ad­ded, “is that Pres­id­ent Obama should do bet­ter than EPA’s worst.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.