Former Top Eco-Regulator: EPA Ozone Rules Are ‘Choking Our Economy’

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Congress is considering suspending Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ozone regulations this week, so The Daily Caller News Foundation sat down with the former head of Texas’ environmental agency to examine the regulation’s impact.

The EPA’s ozone bureaucracy is “a huge problem that is choking our economy,” Kathleen White, the former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from 2001 to 2007, told TheDCNF in an interview.”The agency keeps changing ozone standards so rapidly that states don’t have a chance to implement them before they change to a new standard.”

The EPA required every county in America last year to cut ozone from 75 to 70 parts per billion by 2025. The agency did this even though a third of all Americans live in one of the 177 counties that haven’t yet met 2008 standards of 75 parts per billion.

“Texas spent $40 million just to do the research to meet the EPA ozone standards,” White told TheDCNF. “Before the ink dried on my signature and we even got the research done, the EPA had changed the ozone standard again.”

White pointed out proposed legislation, which could be voted on this week, requiring the EPA to consider the costs of tightening ozone standards. It would also only allow the agency to consider new rules every 10 years instead of every five, giving states a chance to adapt. The bill was supported by 60 conservative organizations that sent a letter to the Senate last week, saying EPA ozone regulations had “questionable benefits, but certain economic costs.”

Critics labelled the EPA ozone rules as the costliest regulations ever imposed on the U.S. economy. Previous EPA estimates for the current standard went as high as $25 billion annually. A study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that the EPA’s strictest ozone standards of 65 parts per billion could cause $1.7 trillion in total economic damage and kill 1.4 million jobs by 2040. Simply ignoring EPA ozone standards isn’t an option either, as local governments risk losing federal highway funds, oil and gas operations may be forced to cease and manufacturers can shut down.

The EPA admits that last year’s standard of 70 parts per billion will cost $1.4 billion annually, but claims that the costs would be offset by $2.9 billion in various health benefits that are difficult to measure. White acknowledges that the ozone does pose health concerns and is a legitimate area to regulate, but says “the way the agency is calculating benefits now is a sham. Two-thirds of the benefits the EPA estimates will come from these rules aren’t even from ozone. Their costs are biased towards the low end and the benefits are exaggerated.”

Several accomplished scientists have criticized the ozone rule’s benefits cited by EPA, as there’s no recorded case of anyone being killed by ozone. EPA claims the new ozone standards will avoid 710 to 4,300 premature deaths by 2025, but clinical tests cast doubt on this number.

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