The EPA’s Ozone Rule and What It Means for Manufacturing

On October 26, the Environmental Protection Agency released the new standard for ground level ozone, the main component of smog. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone (O3) lowers the requirement from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. In 2008, the EPA revised the 1997 standards from 80 ppb down to the current 75 ppb.

The rule, which takes effect in 2017, requires states to submit plans to the EPA showing how they will reduce ozone emissions to comply with the new standards. This will include restricting economic activity, rejecting power plant permits, and blocking highway infrastructure projects.

What exactly does this mean for manufacturers? A recent study showed that the new standard would reduce the U.S. GDP by $140 billion annually by restricting manufacturing and other economic activity in areas of the country that currently exceed the new ozone limit. That estimates to 1.4 million fewer jobs through 2040.

Emission levels in roughly seventy Ohio counties currently violate the proposed rule, as do more than sixty in Illinois, and over fifty in Michigan.  This count mean huge expenditures in compliance costs.
But, before the new rule can take effect, it faces serious judicial hurdles. 

E&E News recently reported that Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, the New Mexico Environmental Department, and the states of Arkansas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma have already filed a petition for review of the standard in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Stay tuned to our blog for more on this and other issues from Washington.


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