The U.S. economy could soon face an unprecedented $2 trillion in regulatory costs if the Environmental Protection Agency goes through with proposed ozone regulations.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute recently calculated that federal regulations cost the U.S. economy $1.88 trillion in 2014. If the EPA has its way, that burden could grow by another $140 billion, pushing the burden past $2 trillion for the first time. (RELATED: Report: Regulations Cost $1.88 Trillion in 2014)
Enhanced air quality standards proposed by the EPA could also cost the average household $830 in lost consumption, according to estimates by the National Association of Manufacturers. Between 2017 and 2040, NAM projects the new regulations would cost the country 1.4 million jobs and $1.7 trillion in foregone economic activity.
“It will be the most expensive regulation ever,” NAM vice president of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
In November, the EPA officially proposed reducing National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 65 ppb, saying the change would yield significant public health benefits. (RELATED: EPA Sneaks ‘Costliest Regulation Ever’ Over Holidays)
According to the EPA, ground-level ozone is formed by reactions between chemicals found in emissions from factories, cars, power plants, and other sources. “Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems,” the agency claims, especially for children, the elderly, and individuals with lung diseases such as asthma.
While that intent may be admirable, Eisenberg told TheDCNF that ozone levels are expected to continue declining even under the existing standard, making the justification for reducing it further somewhat questionable. Moreover, he argued that the ozone level envisioned by the EPA is largely unattainable, and that it would impose massive economic costs for marginal public health benefits.
“We’ve been doing things like this for decades, and all the low-hanging fruit has already been picked,” he explained. As a result, the compliance costs imposed on businesses become progressively larger with each subsequent reduction in ozone standards.
Significantly, Eisenberg claimed that only about a third of the technology needed to get to 65 ppb currently exists, so it is impossible to know whether businesses would even be capable of implementing the controls necessary to comply with the new standards. (RELATED: Report: EPA Fudged the Numbers to Justify its ‘Costliest Regulation Ever’)
“The EPA calls the remainder ‘unknown controls’ and assumes that somebody will eventually come up with them,” he said, but “if those controls don’t come about, businesses would have to start reducing their activity.”
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