Greens question industry study on ozone rule costs

Greens question industry study on ozone rule costs
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Environmentalists are pushing back against a manufacturing group's much cited study about the cost of new federal ozone rules. 

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) commissioned a report earlier this year concluding that the new ozone regulations could cost up to $1.1 trillion to implement and deliver a $140 billion annual hit to the gross domestic product.  

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But Earthjustice released a study of its own on Tuesday, contending NAM’s research firm overshot the price estimates due "to major flaws, math errors and unfounded assumptions."

Earthjustice researchers found instead that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own $16.6 billion assessment also overstates the likely cost of complying with the standards. 

The White House is currently reviewing the EPA’s final ozone rule ahead of a court-mandated release at the end of the month. 

The EPA is looking to cut the ground-level ozone standard from its current 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 parts per billion. 

Supporters say strict new regulations will lead to health benefits. But industry groups contend implementing the rules will be costly and they’ll hurt economic output in areas of the country that don’t meet the new standards.

In the ongoing public battle over the rules, NAM’s study has been one of the industry's most often deployed arguments. The industry, and its Republican allies in Congress, have often referring to the rule as the most expensive regulation in history, a contention based in part on NAM's research. 

But Earthjustice said the report is based on faulty math, which negates the group’s warnings about the ozone rule’s costs. 

“This industry trade group has spent huge sums of money to deceive the American public and elected officials into believing that Americans must make a choice between their health and the economy,” Earthjustice attorney Seth Johnson said. 

“Today’s report shows that the economic threat NAM claims is baseless.”

NAM defended its research firm's study on Tuesday. 

The group's analysis, NAM spokeswoman Erin Streeter said in a statement, "remains the most comprehensive and accurate that has ever been performed on this issue. Manufacturers have been leading the way in ozone emission reductions over the past 30 years and will continue to do so, but need balanced, achievable regulations. It is time to move past rhetoric."

—This post was updated at 5:05 p.m.