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October 13, 2014

EPA Sends Ozone Rule to White House While Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to Current Standards

The Washington, DC newspaper The Hill reported last week in two separate stories that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sent to the White House a draft rule that sets stricter ground-level ozone standards and that the Supreme Court refused to take up a challenge by business organizations to the current standards. 

As Connecting the Dots previously reported, a report from National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) found the new rule the EPA is considering, which revises the current standards set by the George W. Bush administration that were subject to the Supreme Court challenge and are already considered too burdensome, could cost the economy as much as $3.4 trillion in lost output over the next 25 years. That figure would make this proposal the most expensive regulation in U.S. history. 

As Connecting the Dots has also previously reported, the final rule will likely require manufacturers and all other businesses within “nonattainment zones” to reduce their ground-level ozone levels to help meet the new standard. (NAM’s study includes a state-by-state analysis and a potential “nonattainment zones” map.) Business advocate Karen Kerrigan has said these zones will place additional, costly burdens on “any economic entity that wishes to obtain a permit to establish a new facility that will emit the pollutant(s) of concern” and will require these entities to “find an offsetting reduction of those same emissions from another facility that is exiting the area” or “voluntarily reduce its own emissions below its permitted level.” (The NAM study concluded these offsets are difficult – and therefore very costly – to find.) Kerrigan also said the zones will have serious implications for the economy broadly. Because even rural areas are likely to fall into these zones, Kerrigan says the rule has “potentially grave consequences for America’s oil and gas renaissance, which is largely taking place outside city limits.” Kerrigan concluded, “The American economy simply cannot afford another costly federal rulemaking, especially one that will undermine the energy industry, one of the few bright spots of growth and job creation over the last several years.” The White House now has 60 days to review the EPA’s draft, but a federal court ruling requires the EPA to issue a preliminary rule by Dec. 1.