There was much talk about the EPA’s recent declaration of CO2 as a pollutant, and rightfully so. However, there is something else the EPA is regulating which is also very harmful to the US economy: ozone levels. Not only do they currently regulate ozone levels, but they are about to tighten their regulations on them. Many areas in the US are projected to already be in violation as soon as the new regulations are in place.
The current limit on ozone level is 75 ppb (yes that’s parts per BILLION), which was set in 2008 by the Bush administration. The Obama administration has been wanting to change it ever since they got into office, and they were about to in August, but they didn’t. Why? Politics. They intentionally waited until after the election to change the regulation. It is expected to change at the end of this year.
It isn’t know exactly what level they will change the regulation to. It is expected between 60-70 ppb, but I expect it will be on the low end of that scale because changing the level from 75 to 70 hardly seems worth the amount of time they have invested in it. If the level is set at 60ppb, will that really be a problem? Absolutely. Here are a few articles from different areas in the US warning what is about to come:
MANATEE — Manatee and Sarasota counties soon could face a big-city problem: excessive smog. The two-county area is likely to violate new federal ozone standards, triggering an extensive — and expensive — effort to improve the region’s air quality, officials say. “I think they’re going to lower the standard to a point where we are going to be in violation,” said Mike Maholtz, a planner with the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization….The DEP estimates 14 Florida counties would not meet a 70 parts per billion standard. At 60 parts per billion, that figure jumps to 38 counties.
Our region’s government health departments and businesses are working hard to reach the current 2008 ozone standard. The oil and gas industries alone spent $175 billion from 1990 to 2010 to meet all of the Clean Air Act emission standards. This is a difficult task because, as in football, the final few yards are the most difficult to achieve.
For the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey, very real economic hardships will result if the EPA implements these new regulations. Twenty-eight Pennsylvania counties and 21 New Jersey counties are expected to have ozone levels above 60 ppb in 2020. EPA’s new 60 ppb standard will force these counties into a “nonattainment” violation of the standard. This will force power plants, energy-intensive industries, trucking firms, commuters and small businesses under Draconian restrictions on their ozone emissions which will cause the destruction of profitability and growth. The EPA literally will be choking the economic life out of these 28 Pennsylvania counties and 21 New Jersey counties and their businesses.
This NYT article has two interesting quotes in it. The first is talking about the potential costs:
According to an analysis by the Manufacturers Alliance, setting the standard at 60 ppb would cost the economy about $1 trillion per year from 2020 to 2030 and would result in the loss of 7.3 million jobs.
$1 trillion a year?!?! That sounds high, but this regulation will put hundreds of counties across the nation into ‘nonattainment’, which is expensive. But how much does the EPA say it will cost? That brings me to my second quote:
In its proposal last January, EPA said it would set the standard somewhere between 60 and 70 ppb, eliciting the applause of environmental and public health groups. Depending on the standards chosen, the proposed changes would yield between $13 billion and $100 billion in health benefits at a cost of $19 billion to $90 billion, according to EPA estimates.
First of all, when governmental agencies estimate costs they usually are off by at least three-fold, usually five or more. However, what if we did take the numbers simply at face value? Look at the range of uncertainty! The ranges are essentially the same! In other words, the EPA is going to force every county in the US to obey an arbitrary ozone limit in order to obtain health benefits which are essentially the same as the cost imposed.
Why are they lowering the limit at all? Here is a fact sheet about the proposal. They say this:
• On January 6, 2010, EPA proposed to strengthen the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog. The proposed revisions are based on scientific evidence about ozone and its effects on people and the environment.
Alright, so they are basing these results on scientific evidence. What evidence is that? Let’s see:
• In this reconsideration, EPA is not relying on studies about the health and ecological effects of ozone that have been published since the science assessment to support the 2008 review
was completed. However, EPA conducted a provisional assessment of these newer studies and found they do not materially change the conclusions of the Agency’s earlier science assessment.
So they aren’t even looking at new evidence since the 2008 limits were put in place. They are basing it on the same evidence they had earlier, but they believe that 75ppb wasn’t tight enough. However, they believe that 70ppb is tight enough. Obviously FIVE parts in a BILLION is enough of a difference to merit a new draconian rule. Are we really supposed to believe that a decrease of a few parts in a billion will significantly affect the health of our nation? If ozone is that bad (there is no safe background level) why is 60ppm the right number? There will still be asthmatic children harmed at 60ppb, so why not 20ppb or 0ppb? Can someone please inform the EPA about the concept of statistical significance? What I want to know it the margin of error on the ozone monitoring equipment. I bet it is at least 5ppb.
Counties and states across the country should stand up to the EPA and tell them the truth: you don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Leave us alone.