Oil lobby wants ozone rule scrapped

The oil industry says it’s inappropriate for the Obama administration to try restricting ozone standards when the country is still working toward the current requirements.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) says the current standard, set in 2008, would be sufficient to protect health and the environment if states were actually given time to achieve it.

ADVERTISEMENT
“We think it makes sense that people should start working on attaining those standards right now, and there is no new compelling health information, so people should work on those standards right now before considering tightening those,” Howard Feldman, the API’s director of regulatory affairs, told reporters Monday.

“As proposed, the new standards could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements in virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reduce the allowable ground-level ozone concentration to between 65 and 70 parts per billion, from the current 75 parts per billion.

The regulation could hamper development and fossil fuel production and refining, Feldman said. Ground-level ozone, a component of smog, is a byproduct of pollutants from burning fossil fuels.

Feldman’s comments came the day before the House Science Committee holds a hearing to criticize the regulation.

Tuesday also marks the last day that the public can submit formal comments to the EPA about the rule, and the API is planning to file comments objecting to it.

“If President Obama is serious about lifting up the middle class and closing the income inequality gap, the last thing his administration should do is threaten jobs and our energy and manufacturing renaissance with unnecessary new regulations,” Feldman said.

The EPA argues that the rule would reduce the incidence of a number of respiratory illnesses caused by ozone pollution, including asthma and emphysema.

Environmental and health groups agree, and are asking the EPA to go even further and set the standard at 60 parts per billion, which the agency has agreed to consider.

They believe that the law is in their favor, because the Clean Air Act dictates that ozone levels be set in a way that only considers human health and the environment, and not the cost to industry.

The National Association of Manufacturers says complying with the rule would cost the country $1.1 trillion, making it the most expensive regulation ever.