Business groups legally challenge EPA’s ground-level ozone limits

The US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers said they will legally challenge the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ground-level ozone requirements. The groups separately said they have petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for a review.

Their moves came more than 2 months after EPA said it would reduce allowable ground-level ozone limits under National Ambient Air Quality Standards to 70 ppb from the 75 ppb level it set in 2008 (OGJ Online, Oct. 1, 2015). Oil and gas trade associations, along with other business groups, immediately said it went too far. Environmental and some public health groups said it did not go far enough.

“EPA set an unattainable mandate with this new ozone standard that will slow economic growth opportunities,” said William Kovacs, US Chamber’s senior vice-president for environment, technology, and regulatory affairs.

“This new standard could halt progress in communities across the country as businesses are forced to slow expansion plans and outside development looks to other regions,” he warned. “EPA has created a web of regulations that makes it almost impossible for businesses to succeed in this already tough economic climate.”

Karen A. Harbert, president of the US Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said, “Through no fault of their own, many communities have yet to meet EPA's 2008 ozone standard, making it almost impossible for them to realistically meet the new standard unless they make painful decisions that the public will likely not accept.”

NAM filed its petition through its Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action. “EPA’s ozone regulation, which could be one of the most expensive in history, is unworkable and overly burdensome for manufacturers and America’s job creators,” said Linda Kelly, NAM senior vice-president and general counsel.

“Further, our air quality is improving, and ozone levels are down more than 30% since 1980, yet the [Obama] administration insists on moving forward with tightening an already stringent standard,” she said.

Tightening ozone standards could increase costs to the American public, reduce the nation’s ability to compete internationally, and threaten US jobs, the American Petroleum Institute said on a policy issues page at its web site.

It cited a recent NERA Economic Consulting study’s findings that a stricter ozone regulation could reduce US gross domestic product by $270 billion/year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, and result in 2.9 million/year fewer jobs or job equivalents on average through 2040.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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