Biz group launches multimillion-dollar ads against ozone rule

Biz group launches multimillion-dollar ads against ozone rule
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A major business group launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign Tuesday against the Obama administration’s proposal to restrict ground-level ozone pollution limits.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) says it’s taking a more direct and negative approach with its new ads than in previous campaigns against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule, pointing to various national parks that naturally have more pollution than the proposed limits.

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The group is hoping that the campaign will spur lawmakers to discuss the ozone rule with their constituents during Congress's August recess and cause the Obama administration to rethink its proposal.

“With members of Congress about to head out for recess and D.C. about to slow down, we think it’s time to turn up the volume on that to make sure it’s at the front of everybody’s minds,” said Ross Eisenberg, NAM’s vice president for energy policy.

By highlighting national parks with little human-caused pollution, NAM is trying to show “the absurdity of what the EPA’s proposed,” and that the "EPA’s setting standards that are just out of touch with reality,” Eisenberg said.

The campaign will include television and digital ads, in addition to a newspaper campaign.

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The television commercial shows parks including Yosemite and the Grand Canyon that NAM says would violate the EPA’s proposed ozone limit of 70 parts per billion.

“Under new ozone rules out of Washington, these national treasures would actually violate clean air laws,” the narrator says. “If national parks can’t comply, how can your community?”

Ozone is the main component of smog and is a byproduct of various pollutants caused by burning fossil fuels.

The substance has been linked to  respiratory ailments including asthma, leading the EPA to predict that restricting it would produce benefits valued at $38 billion and costs of up to $16.6 billion.

An environmental group released an analysis Tuesday that similarly found high levels of ozone and other air pollutants in national parks.
 
But the National Parks Conservation Association used its report to blame the pollution on coal-fired power plants, not to criticize the EPA’s proposal.
 
“As Americans flock to our national parks this summer to enjoy the great outdoors, they expect and deserve to find clean, healthy air. Sadly that is not always the case,” Ulla Reeves, manager of the group’s clean air campaign. “Our parks remain under threat from air pollution, harming visitors’ health, reducing visibility, and driving the impacts of climate change.”

NAM disagrees. A study it commissioned predicted that the ozone rule would be the most expensive regulation ever, at $1.1 trillion.

It is a high-stakes fight for the industry and sectors that rely on fossil fuels, because to comply with the rule, states might restrict activities that use fossil fuels.

The EPA has proposed to lower the current limit of 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 parts per billion.

The lower limit of the range would put areas such as Yellowstone, Mesa Verde and Acadia national parks out of compliance, NAM says.

The new campaign will focus initially on the Washington, D.C., area, but the group plans to expand it in the future, Eisenberg said.

The EPA is under a court order to set its final ozone regulation by Oct. 1.