The Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule to reduce ozone levels on 1st October. The current National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 75 parts per billion will be reduced to 70 parts per billion.
The new 70 parts per billion limit will cost hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs, but major industry groups took some satisfaction in the fact that it wasn’t worse. Then-EPA Administrator Richard Windsor (aka Lisa Jackson) in 2011 proposed 65 ppb. The White House then decided to delay that rule until after the 2012 elections because the potential costs were so colossal that the issue could have threatened President Obama’s re-election.
The final rule will undoubtedly be litigated by environmental pressure groups and by industry groups. The environmental groups will have a strong case that the standard should be lowered to 65 ppb at the most. That’s because the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee stated in a 26th June 2014 letter that: “[O]ur policy advice is to set the level of the standard lower than 70 ppb within a range down to 60 ppb, taking into account your judgement regarding the desired margin of safety to protect the public health, and taking into account that lower levels will provide incrementally greater margins of safety.” As my CEI colleague William Yeatman noted, federal courts have been very deferential to the recommendations made by the EPA’s scientific advisory boards.
On top of the EPA’s Clean Air Act rules for greenhouse gas emissions, mercury emissions, cross-state air pollution, and regional haze and its Clean Water Act wetlands rule, the ozone rule guarantees that the EPA has become the number one job-killing agency in the Obama Administration.