President Obama Wants To End Independence Day As We Know It

Drew Johnson Contributor
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Enjoy Independence Day while you still can. If President Obama gets his way, this could be the last Fourth of July worth celebrating.

New ground-level ozone standards being pushed by Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency would result in widespread bans on fireworks shows, backyard grilling and other Independence Day traditions.

Because the proposed ozone rule is set so low, things as harmless as a few backyard chefs grilling burgers in the same area at the same time, or even festive fireworks being launched during an Independence Day celebration, could cause an area to violate federal ozone standard thresholds. Such a violation of the EPA’s unreasonably low ozone limit would result in fines and other penalties for local governments from federal regulators.

In an attempt to steer clear of punishment, local lawmakers will have to respond to the new EPA rules by enacting municipal grilling bans and canceling fireworks shows from sea to shining sea.

Outlandish environmental regulations are nothing new for Obama’s EPA, but the proposed ozone limit is likely the most costly and oppressive regulation yet. Besides ending Independence Day as we know it in many places, the lower ozone limit would stall construction projects and prevent job-creating manufacturing facilities from being built in hundreds of cities across the United States.

Recent studies by the National Association of Manufacturers and other groups have shown that the EPA’s new directive would be the most expensive regulation ever enacted, costing the economy $140 billion annually. Even the EPA’s own cost estimates acknowledge the economic hit from the proposed regulation would be well into the tens of billions of dollars a year.

If it is allowed to go into effect, the new ozone standard would increase the price of nearly all goods and service sold in the America, costing families hundreds of dollars a year. Despite the damage to the economy and the expense to Americans, stricter ground-level ozone standards would do almost nothing to improve air quality.

The EPA proposal would lower existing ozone standards by more than 13 percent — from 75 parts per billion to 65 parts per billion — to a level barely above the naturally occurring level of ozone in the atmosphere.

But Americans already enjoy the cleanest air in more than 30 years, and air quality in the U.S. continues to improve annually. Even the EPA itself doesn’t seem to understand why this new rule is needed. While testifying before Congress earlier this year, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy indicated that ozone levels would get down to 70 parts per billion over the next decade without this rule.

To make matters worse, the current EPA ground-level ozone standard was set just seven years ago. In fact, scores of places around the country are still in violation of the existing regulations and the EPA hasn’t yet cared to figure out how to help those get those areas into compliance. The new guideline would move the bar even lower, forcing whole regions of the country to pay fines and face other penalties, without any realistic hope of meeting the standard short of banning cars and forcing businesses to close.

Americans are breathing easier than they have in decades and, if the EPA just leaves things alone, ozone levels will drop another 36 percent by 2025. There is simply no need for President Obama and the EPA to kill jobs, destroy the economy and end Independence Day as we know it for the sake of irrational and unnecessary new environmental standards.

John Adams, writing to tell his wife Abigail that the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain, said that the Fourth of July should “be celebrated by succeeding generations” with “bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”

An unreasonable president and a group of power-hungry bureaucrats shouldn’t be allowed to extinguish Adams’ wishes for a Fourth of July filled “bonfires and illuminations” after nearly 240 years.

Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and a columnist at The Washington Times.