Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Ecofascists Hijack EPA Ozone Regulations

Looming rules could be the "most expensive regulation ever imposed."

Oct. 15, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency will release its new standards regulating ozone in December. Even while the old ozone standards have not been fully implemented and studied, environmental groups have hijacked the EPA to enact new regulations on the nation’s energy and manufacturing economy. And in the estimation of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “This would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public.”

The Supreme Court recently declined to hear the case of Utility Air Regulatory Group, a conglomerate of coal companies, which argued the 2008 ozone rules were too strict. Even after six years, states like Connecticut, New Jersey, Texas and especially California did not reach the ozone production levels set in 2008.

While the EPA has not released the details of the new regulations – they’re waiting until after the election for that – the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee recommended to the agency in June to push the ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) down to 70ppb, or even as low as 60ppb. That level “would certainly offer more public health protection than levels of 70ppb or 65ppb and would provide an adequate margin of safety,” committee chair Dr. H. Christopher Frey wrote. Well heck, if we’re talking health protection here, 0ppb would be ideal, but also against the laws of nature.

Ozone, a.k.a. smog, can form naturally, but manufacturing and burning coal can also create ozone. So ecofascist groups like the Environmental Defense Fund label it a “harmful air pollutant” because it allegedly exacerbates respiratory conditions like asthma.

In July, the DC Circuit Court ruled the EPA violated the Clean Air Act when it did not pass tougher ozone standards in 2008 (under the Bush administration, the greenies like to point out).

The EPA stalled on passing stricter ozone regulations until 2011. But then, Barack Obama told then-EPA Director Lisa Jackson to withdraw the proposed rules, saying, “I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”

Surely stricter ozone regulations weren’t too tough even for Obama to stomach. Perhaps he wasn’t yet emboldened, as it was only his first term. However, the July regulation made environmentalists happy that they finally forced the Obama administration to act.

“Smog sickens and even kills some plants and trees, even in America’s national parks, which are supposed to have the cleanest air in the country,” said Mark Wenzler, vice president of conservation programs at the National Parks Conservation Association. “The Obama administration now has an opportunity to follow the Science™ and not play politics with protecting our national parks and forests from air pollution damage.”

The administration would never play politics.

Perhaps Wenzler meant a court-ordered opportunity. These new ozone rules go beyond executive fiat. These regulations were pushed forward by ecofascists with deep pockets and sharp lawyers. It’s rule by legal suit, baby.

And while the new regulations may make Sequoias and Redwoods happy, the rules would cut down American industry faster than a bald eagle going through a wind turbine. NAM released a study in July concluding new ozone rules “could cost $270 billion per year and place millions of jobs at risk.” That breaks down to costing households $1,570 per year, according to NAM. Furthermore, a 60ppb standard would make every state noncompliant with ozone regulations, with few exceptions – mostly swaths of Montana and North Dakota.

“Based on the way the EPA interprets the Clean Air Act,” the NAM report concludes, “it is virtually ensured that the agency will recommend a stricter standard every five years. Yet, ozone levels are getting so low that a rapidly growing share of even urban areas’ ozone concentration now comes from either naturally occurring ozone or from ozone that has been transported from other states or countries. We have reached the point at which significant further reductions simply cannot be accomplished in any cost-effective manner. Absent recognition of this fact from the EPA, it is time for Congress to modernize the Clean Air Act.”

Right now, an act of Congress may be the only thing that will reform the EPA because the courts have weighed in. The bottom line is the environmentalists have won their court battles; America’s manufacturers and coal industry have lost theirs.

Meanwhile, every American has the right to petition the government, but environmentalist groups seem to have an extra-special right to petition the EPA. According to Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), newly revealed emails between Gina McCarthy, the current EPA administrator, and David Doniger, a policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, suggest collusion. Vitter said, “These emails clearly demonstrate their beyond-cozy relationship and force the question: Who is working for whom?”

The emails show McCarthy working with Doniger to craft the recently passed greenhouse gas regulations. In the emails, McCarthy tells Doniger in 2011, “I will never say no to a meeting with you.” How many coal companies have such a relationship? And in 2010, McCarthy tells him, “I appreciate your support and patience. … This success is yours as much as mine.”

This was the same woman in July who welcomed public comment on the greenhouse gas regulations and with the same breath described economic arguments against EPA regulation as “tired, false and worn out criticism.”

But that was greenhouse gas regulation. When the EPA deviated from the ecofascist line on ozone, the environmentalists’ lawsuit reminded the EPA just who is in charge.

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