EPA Announces Final Ozone Rule

Date: October 02, 2015

Measure Changes Ozone Cap From 75ppb To 70ppb

The EPA this week issued its much-anticipated new restrictions on ozone pollution. In the press release explaining the new rule, the EPA said it “examined nearly 2,300 studies in this review of the ozone standards including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last review of the standards in 2008” in order to determine that the standard of acceptable ozone levels should be lowered from the current 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. Arguing for the new limit, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “Put simply – ozone pollution means it hurts to breathe for those most vulnerable: Our kids, our elderly and those suffering from heart and lung ailments. Our job is to set science-backed standards that protect the health of the American people. Today’s action is one of the most important measures we can take for improving public health, reducing the costs of illness and protecting our children’s health.”

Response to the new standard was swift from environmental and health advocates as well as industry groups. The Los Angeles Times reported that the decision was “delayed for several years,” and the 70 ppb limit was “a disappointment to public health advocates and environmentalists, who had endorsed a more stringent 60-ppb standard.” These advocates said they are “likely to challenge the new standard in court.” Meanwhile, that National Association of Manufacturers said the rule is “a punch in the gut” to businesses, but that “the worst-case scenario was avoided.”

What Happens Next

Though the EPA ozone standards have now been finalized, the new limits won’t be implemented in the near future. As the Los Angeles Times reported, states have “until 2017 to collect air quality and determine their status and several more years to devise plans to cut pollution by 2025.” And, California will be given until 2037 to meet the new standards. This is assuming the rule survives any legal challenges. As the Huffington Post reports, Earthjustice managing attorney David Baron said there would be “a good likelihood” the group would sue the EPA if the final limit was set at 70 ppb rather than 65 or 60.

What This Means For Small Businesses

The EPA has continued its aggressively anti-business regulations with the latest decision. The EPA’s final ozone regulations are disappointing, but unsurprising, given their draft regulations issued in November that suggested the agency was considering setting a limit between 65 ppb and 70 ppb. With a few years remaining before regulations have to take effect, small business owners should start to prepare now for rising electricity costs as their utility providers will be forced to curb fossil fuel usage, shuttering coal-fired plants and switching to costly wind or solar power. Additionally, small business owners who provide cleaning or fueling services will see mounting costs due to regulations on emissions caps.

Additional Reading

USA Today, the Washington Times, McClatchy, the Washington Post, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal, the AP, and the New York Times are among additional outlets covering the new EPA ozone regulations.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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