GOP lawmaker looks to block EPA ozone rule

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) has introduced a bill to block a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule setting stringent new standards for surface-level ozone.

Grothman’s bill would prevent the EPA from tightening regulations on any of the six pollutants covered by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Instead, Congress would write those standards.

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The EPA is currently finalizing a rule lowering the acceptable concentration of surface-level ozone from 75 parts per billion to 65 or 70 parts per billion. Opponents have slammed the rule, warning compliance will be expensive and lead to job losses, especially in the manufacturing sector.

“The new regulations the Obama administration is pushing onto American manufacturers are putting manufacturing jobs at risk," Grothman said in a statement. "The overregulation of America's manufacturing industry is driving away business and innovation, the backbone of our economy."

Under current law, the EPA reviews its air quality standards every five years and determines whether to rewrite them. The EPA says stricter ozone standards are needed to improve public health.

Republicans and red-state Democrats in both the House and Senate have taken aim at the EPA’s ozone rule, which will be finalized by this fall.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) has introduced a bill requiring the EPA to issue new rules only after considering their compliance cost and achievability.  

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill this session blocking the EPA from issuing new ozone standards until 85 percent of the counties that are considered in "non-attainment" with the standing regulations can comply. More than 200 counties still can't meet the current ozone standard.

House Energy and Commerce Committee panels have held hearings on the rule each of the last two weeks. And on Wednesday, a group of GOP doctors sent a letter to the EPA saying they don’t think the rule will have the positive health impacts the EPA says it will.