Slowing the EPA Train Wreck

Advocates of sane economic and environmental policy won a small victory on Friday, July 29. The EPA and President Obama have recently been pushing for a new wave of disastrous, train wreck environmental regulations, which would drive up energy costs, kill millions of jobs, and slow economic growth.  The EPA and president Obama had planned to finalize new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), regulating ground level ozone emissions, on July 29. However, in the face of strong opposition from manufactures, economists, and many members of Congress, the president and the EPA have backed down from their July 29 deadline. While this may be a temporary reprieve, EPA head Lisa Jackson has vowed that the rule will move forward “shortly.”

The proposed rule would tighten standards on acceptable ozone emissions, set in 2008 by the Bush EPA, from 75 ppb to 60 ppb. The Clean Air Act calls for the EPA to reconsider emission regulations every five years, meaning the rules do not need to be reviewed until 2013, yet the EPA is inexplicitly pushing for the immediate adoption of tighter standards. Increased standards would have negligible environmental impact, and would be disastrous for the American economy.  If the new rule goes into effect hundreds of counties across the nation, will be in non-attainment with the new standards, and most manufactures and energy producers will be forced to adapt their equipment at tremendous cost. In a letter to the Obama administration DOW chemical CEO Andrew Liveris claimed that the proposed ozone rule would be, “the single most expensive rule ever imposed on the U.S. economy.” Analysis from Manufactures alliance/MAPI estimates that if the proposed regulations are implemented, 7 million jobs will be lost and GDP will be 3.6% lower by 2020. The EPA’s own estimates, which usually fail to account for the full cost of their regulations, indicate that this new rule could cost the economy as much as $90 billion a year.

Congress has been one of the loudest voices criticizing the new NAAQS rule.  The Obama EPA has bypassed Congress in its frenzied drive to implement dozens of new regulations, and many members of Congress are worried about the economic cost of the EPA’s radical agenda. A bipartisan group of 34 Senators wrote the EPA, to express their “significant concerns” with the regulation. Leaders from the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent EPA administrator Lisa Jackson a letter expressing their strong concern:

“Your choice to promulgate alternate costly new standards outside of the Clean Air Act’s normal five year review cycle defies common sense. The discretionary basis for such expensive decisions also raises serious questions about the Administration’s priorities at a time when the nation’s focus should be on economic recovery and job creation.”

The Obama administration and the EPA have abandoned their July 29 goal. Tighter ozone regulations, are uncalled for, unnecessary, and would be extremely damaging to the economy especially during a recession. Although public outcry and the concerns of Congress may have been strong enough to force the administration and the EPA to delay their regulatory agenda, the respite is only temporary.  The EPA is still determined to issue the rule and the train wreck is far from over. Although the administration and the EPA are currently reviewing their proposed ozone standards, they will undoubtedly make another attempt to finalize the ozone rule along with a host of additional costly regualtions. The NAAQS ozone rule is just one of the first rules in an onslaught of proposed environmental regulations which if implemented will cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars. Concerned citizens and businesses must continue to pressure congress to oppose the President and the EPA’s out of control environmental agenda.