In March, we described vast areas of the nation failing compliance with ground-level ozone (smog) standards if the Environmental Protection Agency adopted a regulatory tightening it initially proposed four years ago.
Last Thursday, the EPA issued a “final rule” limiting allowable ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) in ambient air, down from the current standard of 75 ppb. Virtually all of Wisconsin meets the 75 ppb standard, but large areas won’t be compliant at 70 ppb.
In noncompliant areas, you can’t build or expand a facility requiring a federal air emissions permit unless you secure equivalent emission reductions from other sources. Last year Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce said the rule would make the state’s most populated counties an “economic no-go zone.”
Naturally, this spells conflict between industries laboring to meet the current standard and environmentalists who want less industry.
Among those calling for even more stringent regulation is the irredeemably politicized American Lung Association, which the EPA itself had no choice but to disavow less than a month ago over a bogus air quality report.
The EPA admits to $4 billion in annual compliance costs but maintains this will be more than offset by public health benefits. Oddly, the thousands of premature deaths the EPA says its rule will prevent weren’t such an urgent concern when the Obama administration postponed last Thursday’s rule in 2011—with a presidential election coming up.
By EPA reasoning, most Americans risk their health visiting or inhabiting supposedly dangerous places that would fail the new standard; “noncompliant” areas are almost unavoidable because they cover so much of the U.S.
Ozone isn’t stamped by country of origin, but watch for China to export more of it here as additional industries are exiled by the Obama EPA.