October 5, 2015

EPA Ozone Rule Threatens Health Of Manufacturing And Metals Industry

Last Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final regulation for ground-level ozone standards. The rule lowers the current standard, which was set by the George W. Bush administration in 2008 and is still going through the early stages of implementation, from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. 

While the final rule is a compromise between environmentalists, who wanted the standard reduced to as little as 60 ppb, and industry, which argued current standards should be given a chance to work and that a lower standard would severely reduce employment, the new regulation will impose significant costs on the manufacturing and metals industries and will still lead to significant job losses. While analysts are still reviewing the rule to determine its exact costs (Connecting the Dots will update MSCI members as analysis is released), according to USA Today, “The pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute said compliance costs of the new ozone regulations will lead to a loss of jobs, particularly in the manufacturing and mining industries.” 

It is also unclear whether the reduction to 70 ppb is necessary based on the EPA’s own research. According to the National Journal (subscription required), on a press call last week EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “The ‘best available clinical data’ had shown that 72 ppb was actually the lowest exposure level that would cause adverse health effects for healthy adults.” As such, MSCI will continue to argue that the current air quality standards for ozone should remain in place and be given a chance to work. 

MSCI will also continue to point out that the broader manufacturing industry has led the way to reduced air pollution. As our partner Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, argued last week in The Hill, “Since 1980, ozone levels have fallen 33 percent thanks in large part to innovations conceived, built and advanced by manufacturers across the country. [President Barack] Obama himself said in August that America has ‘solved’ the smog problem in this country. And regulations, technologies and investments to improve fuel economy, increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions will drive further air quality improvements over the next decade and beyond.” 

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) also noted that since the current standards for ozone were set in 2008 “average ozone levels have declined by more than 9 percent, nationally.” IER also argued the revised ozone standards would make Americans “poorer.”