Thomas Pyle

Cash-strapped states and municipalities would likewise face heavy burdens. As it is, “state and local air agencies … in the current budgetary climate, can hardly cope with existing obligations,” according to the Sessions-Landrieu letter. A Congressional Research Service report issued in December 2010 concludes that “virtually every county with a monitor [will] exceed the proposed standard.” At great cost, they must then devise their own compliance plans. Companies located in a “non-attainment community” applying for state pollution emission permits can have their expansion plans denied.

The administration’s fevered push appears even more bizarre considering the proposed standards may not even be attainable. There is evidence that increasing amounts of ozone in our air originate outside the United States and are blown into our country. Stranger still, high-ozone “background” levels at rural monitors in pristine areas such as Yellowstone National Park could exceed the proposed standards, implying that locations across the nation will be unable to meet the more stringent standards, even with the most costly investments in emission controls. In some areas, the EPA has projected more reductions are required to comply than are even emitted locally.

The science behind the EPA plan has also been called into question. According to a NERA Consulting report issued in July, 93 to 100 percent of the EPA’s projected Ozone Health Benefits disappear if its “Policy-Relevant Background” ozone values are correlated to actual monitoring data instead of to the agency’s flawed assumptions. Further, the causal relationship EPA assumes to exist between ozone and death is not supported by the agency’s own science advisors. The EPA itself has noted that at exposure levels below 80 parts for billion there is “only a very limited amount of evidence” of ozone-related lung or respiratory problems.

EPA must review its air quality regulations every five years, but these ozone regulations were most recently ratcheted down in 2008, meaning that EPA has no need to review the regulations for another two years. In fact, the administrations dramatic haste preempts the mandatory scientific review not yet completed by an EPA-appointed panel.

Evidently, the administration is prepared to take the air out of an economy that is struggling to pump itself back up, and to destroy American jobs. In light of the dubious benefits and the certain economic harm, the administration’s reasoning for making this regulation such a high priority is a mystery. And why the administration shifted the new rules in advance of its expected review date is also mystifying.

It’s not too late for the Obama administration to hold off on these new, onerous regulations. Going ahead would be irresponsible and would show the American people that the administration has a complete disregard for domestic job creation.

Thomas Pyle

Thomas J. Pyle is the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA). In this capacity, Pyle brings a unique backdrop of public and private sector experience to help manage AEA’s Washington, DC-based staff and operations. He also helps to develop the organization’s free market policy positions and implement education efforts with respect to key energy stakeholders, including policymakers, federal agency representatives, industry leaders, consumer entities and the media.