Washington Examiner: Bill seeks to slow ozone rules

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Washington, December 17, 2015 | KYLE FELDSCHER | comments
A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to delay by two years the start of new ozone standards announced by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year.
The bill would require the EPA to delay implementation of the new standards for two years so the agency can study how foreign pollution affects ozone levels in areas that would not be in compliance with the new standards. Ozone is the primary ingredient in smog.
The bill also would require the EPA to review ozone standards every eight years, instead of the current five, and allow the agency to consider the feasibility of new standards when officials draft a new ozone rule.
"The EPA, when releasing new standards, must ensure that they are achievable, and do not cause significant harm to our economy," said Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio.
On Oct. 1, the EPA announced it would lower the amount of ozone allowed in the atmosphere from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. States have between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standard, depending on the state.
EPA officials estimate that many areas not in compliance currently will meet the standard, without changing any of their practices, by 2025.
The agency projects the cost of implementing the regulation will be about $1.4 billion, while the health benefits between $2.9 billion and $5.9 billion.
Latta introduced the bill with Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.
The bill is intended to be the first in a series of legislative measures on the ozone standard. According to Latta, future legislation will help local authorities transition to new ozone standards handed down by the EPA.
Titled the Clean Air Implementation Act, the bill would require the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences study how much impact foreign pollution has on ozone levels in the United States. The implementation of the 70 parts per million standard would be delayed until the study is done.
Cuellar called for a slower implementation process to help businesses.
"I know the negative impact that rapidly implementing the EPA's new ozone standard could have on economic development in my district," he said. "We need to find a way to balance the need for environmental protection with the feasibility of implementing these standards in an economically viable way."
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