• EPA Announces New Emissions Rules
  • October 26, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its new air-quality standards for ground-level ozone, lowering the allowable level from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. A move that is drawing criticism from both environmentalists, who say it’s not enough, and industry groups, who say it’s too much.

    Ozone is a major component of smog and results from a mixture of pollutants like nitrogen oxide that react in heat. The resulting pollution has been linked to respiratory diseases like asthma and heart disease, and it has been linked to premature death.

    The EPA said that the new standard would avert 230,000 asthma attacks and up to 660 premature deaths a year by 2025, with annual public health benefits of between $2.9 and $5.9 billion. That’s compared to the annual costs of $1.4 billion.

    But environmentalists have said that more gains were possible with a lower standard and asked for it to be set at 60 ppb, which they said would do the most to protect vulnerable groups like children and the elderly. And having been disappointed on the ozone standard in the past, environmentalists have indicated they could take legal action against EPA.

    EPA’s own science advisers last year recommended a range of between 60 ppb and 70 ppb, but they cautioned that exposure to the upper end of that spectrum could “result in significant adverse effects,” such as impaired lung development and respiratory disease. The lower end of the recommended range, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee said, “would certainly offer more public-health protection.”

    Industry groups, who have called the ozone rule the most expensive regulation to come out of the White House, didn’t want the agency to lower the standard at all but instead keep it at 75 ppb. They’ve said that any lower standard would plunge too much of the country out of compliance, opening up states and counties to expensive fines and pollution controls.

    Opponents have called on Republicans in Congress to put a stop to the rules. There are several House and Senate bills that would put a hold on the ozone standard until all states had complied with the current 75 ppb levels, and recent spending bills have included riders to put a stop to the regulations.

    The standards also would not begin taking effect until 2020 at the earliest due to the long timeline of air-quality standards; states are still working on implementing plans for the last revision of the ozone rules.