Questionable new ozone rule

Over this week, the US EPA has been conducting public hearings on its proposal to implement a stricter National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. This rule has been called ‘the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public’ by the National Association of Manufacturers. In order to justify the rule, the EPA has argued that it will deliver billions of dollars in net health benefits.

Based on a review of the EPA data, EID has found that the EPA may have inflated the benefits of a new ozone standard by several thousand percent.

Key findings

The EPA has said that the net benefits of a 65 ppb ozone standard is as high as US$23 billion. This is 3100% higher than what the EPA had previously estimated the same standard would be capable of delivering.

The previously proposed 2011 ozone standard suggested that 65 ppb would essentially accrue ozone net benefits. The EPA has said its new estimate is based on 1000 studies published since 2008. But the EPA’s latest Health Risk and Exposure Assessment indicates that nearly 70% of the references were published prior to 2011. An overwhelming majority of the research that the EPA is citing to justify 65 ppb was available when the EPA found 65 ppb would deliver 0 net benefits.

The EPA’s benefits are premised upon reducing ozone exposure in areas that have been unable to comply with existing standards. In 2011, the EPA projected those regions would not be in compliance until at least the 2020s.

The EPA’s data shows that a lower ozone standard could result in increased mortality. In Houston, for example, the EPA’s data shows that a 65 ppb standard could result in over 44 premature deaths.

EID has said that in addition to the questionable public health justification, the EPA’s new ozone standards could threaten America’s energy renaissance by driving up the cost to produce oil and natural gas. According to NERA Economic Consulting, “new oil and natural gas production could be significantly restricted in parts of the country classified as non-attainment areas, limiting supplies of critical energy resources and potentially driving up costs for manufacturers and households. Such cost impacts could crush the manufacturing comeback by removing our nation’s energy advantage.”

If a rule of this magnitude is imposed, then the EID has said that the EPA should have to provide a far more scientifically robust public health basis, one that does not rely on what appears to be a dubious inflation of health benefits and a lack of attention to the quantitative and qualitative costs.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

Published on 30/01/2015

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