Business groups try to block greens’ push for tougher ozone rule

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Business organizations are asking a federal court to dismiss a push from green groups for more stringent ozone standards.

The Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and others filed a motion Friday opposing a lawsuit, led by the Sierra Club, that challenges the current standard.

The business groups — which have filed their own lawsuit against the ozone rules, seeking the opposite result — have said a standard like the one the green groups want would hurt businesses and communities. 

“The even more stringent standard sought by these special interest groups would force a far greater number of cities and counties into EPA’s economic ‘penalty box,’ and would be devastating to American business,” said William Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president of Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs.

“The Chamber will continue to push back against unreasonable regulatory overreach from the EPA and third-party litigants.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new surface-level ozone standard of 70 parts per billion is the subject of fierce litigation from businesses, as well as environmental and health groups.

Businesses say the standard is too difficult to meet and will hurt manufacturers as localities move to conform to it. 

“This could be one of the most expensive regulations in history, creating significant barriers to manufacturers’ ability to open new plants and expand existing operations,” NAM senior vice president and general counsel Linda Kelly said. 

“As the administration continues to pile regulations on our nation’s manufacturers, we will continue to challenge these overreaching rules in court.”

On the other side, environmental activists and health groups say the EPA should have instituted even tougher ozone standards for the sake of public health. 

“This standard leaves kids, seniors and asthmatics without the protection doctors say they need from this dangerous pollutant,” Earthjustice attorney David Baron said in December, when the groups filed their lawsuit against the EPA.

“The EPA has a duty to set standards that assure our air is safe to breathe. We say they violated that duty here."