EPA ozone rule costly, duplicative, unnecessary

Soon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ozone rule is expected to go into effect. It stands to be the costliest regulation in history, imposing new standards that are overly burdensome, technically unattainable and deficiently demonstrative of providing any environmental or public health benefits. 

Unfortunately, this administration has chosen to ignore the ramifications of this rule while promoting an increasingly radical environmental agenda. The argument in favor of this – and a growing number of new polices – builds upon a deceptive premise, one that implies the protection of our environment is incompatible with fostering the growth of our energy and manufacturing sectors.  

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This is a false choice. States and industry have already demonstrated the ability to balance environmental stewardship and promote the economic growth these industries have provided.    

Recent data has shown that the adherence to current regulations – both state and federal – and to industry best practices, is already working to reduce ozone while still allowing for economic growth. The EPA’s own data indicates that U.S. ozone precursor emissions have been cut in half since 1980, reducing ozone in the air by 33 percent. 

This new ozone rule, proposed last year as part of the Administration’s climate agenda, will revise the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) from the current standard of 75 parts per billion to a level between 65-70. 

As counties across the country are investing billions of dollars to meet the current NAAQS standards – those introduced in 2008 - the EPA is now on the verge of implementing standards so stringent that 2,110 counties – 67 percent of the country -would fail them. Without allowing sufficient time for counties to implement these requirements – the Agency only issued guidance to states on implementation this year - the EPA has effectively moved the goalposts in the middle of the game. As counties fail to meet attainment, they would be subjected to costly regulatory restrictions and compliance requirements. This creates uncertainty that will stifle future investments in counties that the Agency designates in “non-attainment”. 

The proposed levels are so low that some parts of the country could fall into nonattainment even if all human activity in the area were to cease.  Indeed, both the Yosemite and the Grand Canyon National Parks would be in violation of the EPA’s proposed rule. 

This rule would essentially create a nation of nonattainment areas. 

Since the rule was initially proposed last year, we have heard from experts in a range of fields and industries confirming even the possibility of this rule being implemented have proven detrimental to our workforce’s growth, and our economy as a whole.  

A recent study conducted on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers projects that the EPA’s proposal could reduce the U.S. GDP by $140 billion annually, and eliminate 1.4 million job equivalents per year.  Overall compliance costs could exceed $1 trillion, making this proposal the most expensive regulation in U.S. history. The impact in my home state of Ohio would be especially significant, with projections of over 22,000 lost jobs and $22 billion in Gross State Product Loss from 2017 to 2040. 

I represent a district with about 60,000 manufacturing jobs. These hard working Americans in both small and large businesses should not be faced with the choice of complying with EPA regulations or staying in business.  

A recent poll showed 69 percent of Ohioans think a stricter ozone rule would make it harder for local businesses to start new operations or grow existing ones. This conclusion has also been reached by the manufacturing, energy, construction and transportation industries. 

The EPA, when proceeding with new regulations, must take into consideration what is actually achievable, and what would cause significant harm to our economy. Recognizing the great burden the ozone rule would place on business both large and small across the country, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) and I recently reintroduced the Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act, which would require the EPA to include feasibility and economic impact assessments when issuing major rules under the Clean Air Act. 

This bipartisan legislation would allow the agency to balance improving our air quality, while ensuring the process does the least harm to our economy. 

We all want clean air. We want to preserve the environment for our children and future generations. We also need to create the best environment for our businesses to prosper. Despite what the administration is purporting, we are already demonstrating the ability to do both: preserving our environment and growing our economy through best practices, and commonsense regulations. 

Latta has represented Ohio’s 5th Congressional District since 2007. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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