Energy

Congress Could Block One Of Obama’s Most Expensive Regulations

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation to roll back Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on ground-level ozone, taking aim at one of the agency’s most expensive rules.

Republicans lawmakers, and one Democrat, have a bill that would push back the implementation date of the EPA’s 2015 ozone, or smog, standard until 2025, and would have the agency revisit the standard every 10 years, instead of every five years.

The bill would also require EPA to consider the technological feasibility of meeting more stringent ozone standards and submit a report to Congress on how pollution from China and other countries impacts the rule.

“In West Virginia and across the country, states have suffered job losses and economic devastation under the regulatory burdens of the previous administration,” West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Capito, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said in a statement.

Republicans criticized the EPA’s 2015 smog standards for being too expensive, and hammered the agency for imposing the more stringent standards before states had fully complied with the 2008 standards. They hope their bill will fix these problems.

“The Ozone Standards Implementation Act will provide more clarity, more regulatory certainty, and ease the economic burden of never-ending overreach,” Capito said.

EPA’s 2015 ozone standard is one of the costliest air regulations ever imposed by the agency. EPA estimated lowering allowable ambient ozone concentrations from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion would cost $2 billion, including California’s compliance costs.

EPA said the benefits of the ozone rule range from $3.1 billion to $8 billion, but most of those benefits come from reducing fine particulate matter and not lower ozone levels.

Manufacturers, however, believe EPA’s ozone standard could end up costing way more. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) found that setting an ozone standard of 65 parts per billion would cost $1.7 trillion dollars by 2040.

EPA did not set a 65 parts per billion standard, but NAM’s report suggests the rule will still be extremely expensive. NAM still expects the ozone standard to be one of the most expensive ever issued by EPA.

Environmentalists favor more stringent ozone standards, and are likely to oppose any legislation trying to upend EPA rules. Environmentalists already oppose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who President Trump picked to head EPA.

Pruitt sued EPA to get federal courts to overturn the agency’s 2015 smog regulation.

“He has fought Environmental Protection Agency pollution limits on toxic substances like soot and mercury that put us all at risk for increased cancer, childhood asthma and other health problems,” Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice, said in a statement opposing Pruitt.

Ground-level ozone forms when air pollutants, from natural and man-made sources, mingle together in the presence of sunlight. EPA requires already requires states to limit the amount smog-forming pollutants they emit.

Some states say ozone from China and nature make it nearly impossible to comply with the new rules. A 2014 study, for example, found that more than 100 state and national parks would be out of compliance with a 70 parts per billion ozone standard.

“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],” reads the report from the right-leaning American Action Forum.

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