Report: 100 National, State Parks Violate EPA’s New Clear Air Rule

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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At least 100 national and state parks might not be in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s stricter ozone rule, according to a new report by the conservative American Action Forum.

Not only is the EPA’s new ozone rule possibly the most expensive regulation ever proposed, it is so strict that not even national and state parks will be able to be in compliance, according to AAF’s report.

“Hardly transportation corridors and centers of heavy pollution, many observers would be surprised to know that Death Valley National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Cape Cod National Seashore have ozone readings of 71 to 87 [parts per billion],” AAF policy experts Sam Batkins and Catrina Rorke write in their report.

“The notion that EPA’s ozone regulation will affect just dirty power plants and manufacturing facilities is farce,” write Batkins and Rorke. “These new regulations will hit states, their parks, national wildlife refuges, and countless pending construction projects across the U.S.”

The EPA’s ozone standard sets acceptable levels between 65 and 70 parts per billion, but the agency is also looking into an even stricter ozone standard of 60 parts per billion. But at such low levels, iconic national parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon won’t even be in compliance.

“It’s not entirely clear how these levels would be addressed at national parks,” write Batkins and Rorke. “It’s likely the state’s responsibility to address ozone concentrations at parks within their borders. Even though these parks don’t contain large manufacturing facilities or refineries, states will have to find ways to address each county that is in non-attainment.”

The EPA’s new ozone rule has a price tag of $15 billion at the 65 parts per billion threshold, according to AAF. But the EPA says there are other regulations in the pipeline that could help states meet stricter ozone standards.

Finalized and pending EPA rules “including the final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards [MATS], the final Tier 3 Vehicle Emissions and Fuels Standards, requirements to reduce the interstate transport of ozone [CSAPR], Regional Haze rules, and the proposed Clean Power Plan, will help states meet the proposed standards by making significant strides toward reducing ozone-forming pollution,” according to the agency.

But the main effect of these rules has been to shutter coal-fired power plants and huge regulatory burdens for U.S. industry. The total cost of the last six major clean air rules, including the ozone rule, comes to a whopping $37.5 billion, according to AAF.

“To put this $37.5 billion in perspective, it’s roughly seven times higher than the cost of all major rules issued in fiscal year 2011,” Batkins and Rorke note. “$37.5 billion is almost as high as the entire bill for all major rules issued from 1999 to 2009… These recent regulations, coupled with an ozone rule that doesn’t even spare national parks, is a decade’s worth of regulating in just four or five years.”

But that could be just the tip of the iceberg. A study done by the National Association of Manufacturers found that setting the ozone standard at 60 parts per billion could cost $270 billion a year and significantly raise energy prices. Most of the country would be violate a lower EPA ozone standard, according to NAM, meaning more power plant shutdowns and possibly stunted oil and natural gas drilling.

The EPA says its ozone standard is based on more than 1,000 scientific studies published since 2008 and will prevent “more than 750 to 4,300 premature deaths; 1,400 to 4,300 asthma-related emergency room visits; and 65,000 to 180,000 missed workdays.”

The EPA did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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