Final EPA Ozone Rules Pending

Date: September 15, 2015

Businesses Brace For Higher Costs From Emissions Cuts

The EPA is set to implement tougher ozone regulations across the US by October 1. The proposed regulations will decrease accepted levels of ozone, or smog, pollution to between 65 and 70 parts per billion, down from the current restriction of 75 ppb. However, there is concern among business and industry groups that the EPA may set its restriction as low as 60 ppb. The initial draft regulation submitted to the Office of Management and Budget on August 29 included a cut to 70 ppb. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in its “PowerSource” blog, notes that the EPA’s proposal is the “the third time in 18 years” that the agency has moved to lower its allowable-ozone limit. Meanwhile, in some parts of the US, the current standard is still unmet. In Pennsylvania, for instance, 17 counties don’t meet the 75 ppb mandate. The proposed 70 ppb mandate means another 16 counties in that state alone are likely to be found in violation of emissions standards.

What Happens Next

Right now, it’s unclear exactly what the EPA’s final rule will propose. However, with the October 1 deadline looming, Politico noted the issue “will come to a head” this month, with groups on both sides of the debate including the Sierra Club and the National Association of Manufacturers both ramping up lobbying efforts first begun in 2011 on the issue. After the October 1 final proposal is issued, the final rule is likely to “be up to the courts,” as groups are expected to challenge the cut no matter whether it stays at 70 ppb or falls further. Therefore, final details and deadlines for implementation of the new ozone regulations remain unclear.

What This Means For Small Businesses

Small businesses typically bear the brunt of costs associated with increased federal regulations, and the latest EPA ozone rules are no exception. If implemented, small business owners in all sectors will, like US consumers at large, likely see electricity costs rise as power plants are forced to curb usage of fossil fuels or shutter existing coal-fired plants. Outside of higher energy costs, small business owners in industries that emit some levels of pollutants, like gas stations, dry cleaners, or printers, will face rising costs associated with limiting emissions.

Additional Reading

NFIB previously noted its opposition to the new 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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