O-Zone Defense

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

ozone_mapLast week we mentioned a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation that deserves more scrutiny: the revision of national air quality standards for ground-level ozone.

That is, smog.

No commercial or industrial facility emits smog, but many emit substances that combine under the right weather conditions to form smog.  These emissions are regulated and almost all the U.S. landmass in the 48 contiguous states is compliant with EPA standards.

But the agency now proposes further tightening the standards—already required by the Clean Air Act to be sufficiently restrictive to protect public health. The proposed tightening is a recipe for absurd results.

The EPA has previously claimed avoidance of “absurd results” to persuade courts it has the authority to unilaterally rewrite law, but not now. So what absurd result may we anticipate?

How about Yosemite National Park being ruled noncompliant with EPA air quality regulations?

How about the same happening to Santa Fe, New Mexico, or the Sawtooth Wilderness Area in Idaho, or the entire state of Utah, or Wisconsin’s Forest and Marinette Counties?

Wisconsin currently has just two areas, Sheboygan County and a fragment of Kenosha County, which are marginally noncompliant with federal ozone standards. No new emission source can be built in a noncompliant area unless it can match up with an equivalent emission reduction. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce says the EPA’s plan would make much of the state’s eastern half an “economic no-go-zone.”

The ozone regulation is expected to be the most expensive in EPA history, which is to say the most expensive in human history. If you think the U.S. economy would be just fine, frozen in place exactly as it is, this is the regulation for you.

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