State and Local Leaders Across the Country Express Bipartisan Concern about EPA’s Ozone Rule

By at 17 March, 2015, 7:11 am

Local officials from across the country have expressed alarm about EPA's proposed ozone standard, and its impact on small businesses and economic development efforts.

Local officials from across the country have expressed alarm about EPA’s proposed ozone standard, and its impact on small businesses and economic development efforts.

“Let’s create jobs, not regulations.”

by Karen Kerrigan-

As the public comment period comes to a close for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone, the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS) has been sifting our way through the more than 51,000 submissions already registered.

The clear takeaway is that there are strong, bipartisan concerns that have been expressed by state and local officials about the impact of EPA’s further tightening of the ozone standard.

In Michigan, for example, former State Senator Tupac Hunter (D) and State Senator Virgil Smith (D) both warned that EPA’s effort would “wreak havoc on Michigan businesses.” Senator Smith wrote in his comments:

“The negative effects of the EPA’s ill-advised proposal will also be felt by my constituents, who will see a drastic increase in their electric and gas bills, accompanied by widespread construction and manufacturing layoffs. EPA lowering of the NAAQS will cost our state billions at a time when we are still recovering from economic recession. Michigan simply cannot afford it. Let’s create jobs, not regulations.”

Former Senator Hunter added: 

“Moving the standard yet again, as we’re still in the early phases of implementing the current standard of 75 ppb, will have a disastrous effect on our economy and our communities. Tightening the standard so drastically, and so soon, will deliver devastating blows to businesses and increasing electric and natural gas costs for residents statewide.” 

In Oklahoma, J. Michael Patterson, Executive Director of Oklahoma’s Department of Transportation, warned that rural parts of Oklahoma will “suffer significant economic impacts” noting:

“With the impact of extreme summertime weather patterns and other factors, such as transport, the larger urban areas in Oklahoma have continued to be proactive within their respective areas to maintain attainment of the current NAAQS. However, the rural areas that would now be affected by the proposed lower standards will suffer significant economic impacts and have fewer options than the urban areas for achieving sufficient reductions of pollutants.” 

In Colorado, County Commissioners from Jefferson, Weld and Adams County, along with leading business organizations, warned about the severe economic impact from tightening the standard.

  • County Commissioners Sean Conway (Weld), Libby Szabo (Jefferson) and Erik Hanson (Adams) noted that thousands of jobs are at stake and that, “The current NAAQS ozone regulations which were approved in 2008, are the most stringent to ever take effect and are working to protect air quality and public health. In fact, many regions are still working toward attainment of those standards including mine.”
  • Chuck Berry, President and Chief Executive Officer of Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry noted that Colorado businesses “have been working hard to comply with existing EPA rules” and that “Colorado businesses were at the table for statewide air quality standards, minimum setbacks, water conservation and energy efficiency standards all to ensure we worked with our communities and state government as a team. However, the federal government did not ask for business input on these proposed standards and to-date has been uninterested in hearing the business and consumer voice.”

Mayors across Illinois expressed deep concern, stating that, “The change in the threshold would impose new and more costly standards on local businesses at a time of recession and historic unemployment nationwide.”

“[V]ery few of the total U.S. counties are monitored. Only areas without monitors, smaller urban and rural areas, would be able to attract businesses and industries. This outflow of industry from large and rnid-sized urban areas would be counter to smart growth and sustainability implementation strategies. The existence of monitors themselves should not create a system of advantaged and disadvantaged communities, counties and states. The change in the threshold would impose new and more costly standards on local businesses at a time of recession and historic unemployment nationwide.” 

The list of mayors signing the comment included Bob Gallagher (Mayor of Bettendorf), William Gluba (Mayor of Davenport), John Thodos (Mayor of East Moline), Scott Raes (Mayor of Moline), DeWayne Hopkins (Mayor of Muscatine), Dennis Pauley (Mayor of City Rock Island), Larry Minard (Chair of Scott County Board) and Phil Banasayck (Chair of Rock Island County Board).

In Ohio, David Miller serving on the Sunbury Village Council said the EPA’s proposal would be “detrimental to our community in a bad way.” Miller, along with four others, explained: 

“The National Ambient Air Quality Standands (NAAQS) for ozone concerns me greatly on the effect it will have on jobs in Sunbury, Ohio. This may especially bad for SHOWA. This company is the largest employer in Sunbury. Lowing of the standard will result in our small businesses being exposed to citation for air pollution. This would be detrimental to our community in a bad way.” 

From New Mexico, Roger McClellan, an expert participant of Harvard’ School of Public Health, noted the different angles scientists and policymakers must review data to inform regulations:

“The [proposed rule] is turgid with numerical estimates of ozone attributable risk that document the expected obvious result – the lower the level of ozone the lower the ozone attributable risk. To make a decision as to how low is low enough, the Administrator must be provided information on the health and welfare risks that exist in the real world, because we do not live in an ideal world free of disease and deleterious welfare impacts. 

“For example, does ‘common sense’ lead the Administrator as a matter of policy conclude that among all the factors associated with the occurrence of asthma, it is necessary to lower the level of the Ozone NAAQS to minimize the occurrence of asthma? Or when considering all the factors that influence plant productivity does it makes “common sense” to lower the level of the secondary Ozone NAAQS? As an aside, if these questions were asked of scientists whose careers have been built on studying ozone the answer is likely to be different than that offered by a policy maker who is expected to have a broader perspective on the complexities of the real world than the individual scientist with a vested interest.” 

The bottom line is that far outside the beltway, state and local officials are pushing back against EPA’s efforts to move the goal posts once again on the ozone standard. Rather than punish local communities that have made significant air quality improvements, the federal government should be listening to local leaders about the best way to improve air quality while also growing our economy.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

 For more than twenty years, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) – a nonprofit advocacy, research and education organization – has worked to protect small business and promote entrepreneurship. The Center for Regulatory Solutions is a project of SBE Council.



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