New Federal Ozone Regs Promise Improved Health With a Hefty Price Tag


Earlier this week, the EPA unveiled its latest plan to reduce harmful emissions, namely smog. And it could cost us all a lot of money.

Smog, or ground level ozone, continues to be a problem for us all, not just those in big cities like Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and New York but also communities in Boise, Idaho, Topeka, Kan., and Des Moines, Iowa. It would “likely put hundreds [sic] more counties nationwide in violation” of smog levels, according to the Associated Press, many for the very first time. The new proposed EPA smog standards are in sharp contrast to those implemented in the Bush years, which environmentalists claimed were in opposition to scientific research as levels were reduced to 75 parts per billion from previous highs of 84 parts per billion in the mid to late 1990s.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said this week that, this time, science has been followed.

“EPA is stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face,” Jackson said. “Using the best science to strengthen these standards is long overdue action that will help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier.”

But, as with everything, getting more strict on smog, especially on finer particles that can be more damaging to human lungs (even more detrimental to children’s lungs because they are still developing), will cost more money. The EPA said the program could cost between $19 billion to $90 billion a year by 2020. That’s quite a large range. What worries some, namely those in the manufacturing and fuel industries, is that companies will shoulder much of the burden. The petroleum industry, for example, has already invested $175 billion toward environmental improvements and that the latest EPA plan lacked “scientific justification.”

“There is absolutely no basis for EPA to propose changing the ozone standards promulgated by the EPA Administrator in 2008,” the American Petroleum Institute said in a statement this week. “To do so is an obvious politicization of the air quality standard setting process that could mean unnecessary energy cost increases, job losses and less domestic oil and natural gas development and energy security.”

The school bus industry has been at the forefront of using its own money as well as state and federal grant funds to make its vehicles cleaner. These regs could mean even more money is necessary. The next couple of months, when EPA gathers public comments, could shed a lot of light on what’s next, especially as more taxpayer money will also likely be required, even as the debate over the legitimacy of the global warming tag rages on. Early next monty, EPA plans three public hearings in Arlington, Va.  and in Houston (Feb. 2) and in Sacramento, Calif. (Feb. 4).

Stay tuned for more on how the industry, especially manufacturers, could be affected by the proposed plan.