Paul Driessen

The Environmental Protection Agency’s war on economic growth, jobs, poor families, modern living standards, and people’s health and welfare is about to get a lot more damaging..

The Clean Air Act says EPA must set standards for ozone and other pollutants – and periodically review existing standards, to determine whether they are adequately protecting public health, or need to be tightened further. In 1997, the agency reduced the permissible ambient ozone level to 84 parts per billion (equivalent to 8.4 cents out of $1,000,000). In 2008, it lowered the standard again, to 75 ppb.

However, due to public outcry and because EPA’s own clean air science advisory committee said the reduction wasn’t necessary, in 2009 the agency suspended the 75 ppb rule’s implementation, pending “further study.” Shortly thereafter, though, Lisa Jackson’s EPA decided to slash allowable ozone levels to 60 ppb – without doing any further analysis. Sensing how politically volatile the issue could become, President Obama told EPA to postpone the hyper-restrictive rule until after the 2012 elections.

Meanwhile, state and industry lawsuits challenged even the 75 ppb level as unnecessary and harmful, and self-proclaimed “public health advocates” (hardcore environmentalist groups) sued for immediate implementation, claiming ozone’s role in smog means 60 ppb levels are needed now. However, no recent study has shown negative (much less toxic) effects on people, even at levels far higher than in America’s ambient air; even people engaged in vigorous exercise displayed only minor transient effects.

Right now, according to the Business Roundtable, only 66 out of 736 monitored US counties do not meet the 75 ppb ozone standard. (Virtually all counties meet the 84 ppb standard.) The Obama EPA’s 60 ppb rule would put 96% of those counties – 707 of 736out of compliance, according to EPA! Other analysts say the new standard would turn “only” 85-88% of the counties into non-attainment areas. Maps depicting the 60 ppb rule’s impact show massive swaths of the United States blasted into noncompliance.

This insanity is underscored by the fact that even parts of Yellowstone Park would be out of compliance, if the 60 ppb rule is imposed. That’s because the volatile organic compounds that are precursors to ozone don’t come just from fuels, plastics and other hydrocarbons. They also come from volcanoes, hot springs and trees: deciduous trees emit VOCs on hot, sunny days; conifers emit them day and night.


Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

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