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Thursday, December 09, 2010

EPA Delays Tightening Ground-Level Ozone Standard

Center Wants New Ozone Standard Now

The Environmental Protection Agency is punting the football on smog reductions.  Ozone is a principle component of smog that cause respiratory illnesses.  This is the third punt this year and EPA has announced that it will not be prepared to decide until next July whether to tighten a national air-quality standard for ozone.  The agency has said tightening the standard could save as many as 12,000 lives a year and yield health benefits worth as much as $100 billion annually in 2020.  EPA has proposed setting the standard at between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from 75 ppb now.

A standard of 60 ppb could cost businesses as much as $90 billion annually in 2020. The costs would include new emissions controls that businesses would have to install; higher electricity prices as power plants switched to cleaner-burning but costlier fuels; and more frequent auto inspections.

Leading manufacturers and energy companies, such as Exxon Mobil Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, and American Electric Power Company, believe the EPA has not proven that the 60 ppb standard would save the number of lives the agency claims. They also believe EPA has underestimated the amount of ozone that forms naturally or drifts into the U.S. from abroad, from factories in China, for example.

The EPA's proposal has our support and the support of the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association, and is consistent with the recommendation of a 23-member panel of clean-air experts who advised the agency on the issue after reviewing more than 1,700 studies.

On Tuesday, the EPA decided to delay another costly, controversial proposed regulation aimed at smokestack industries, saying it needed another year to finish rules aimed at reducing pollution from boilers and solid-waste incinerators. (WSJ, 12/9/2010)

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