U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final rule to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, or smog, was published in the Federal Register. The new standard is an unprecedented 70 parts-per-billion (ppb), down from the 75 ppb standard set in 2008.
“When it comes to the debilitating impact its rules have on jobs, the economy, and hard-working American taxpayers, the Obama EPA never fails to disappoint,” said Thune. “This rule, as I’ve warned since it was first introduced, will have a serious negative impact on energy prices, job growth, and future economic development. That’s why I’ve introduced the Clean Air, Strong Economies Act – or CASE Act – a bill that would prioritize smog reduction where it is most serious.”
Counties that exceed the ground-level ozone standard are considered non-attainment areas and will be subjected to stiff federal penalties, increased business costs, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and lost highway dollars. Areas in marginal attainment will face steep challenges in attracting new economic development.
On March 17, 2015, Thune and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced the bipartisan CASE Act (S. 751), which would stem the economic harm from a lower ozone standard by requiring the EPA to focus on the worst areas for air quality before lowering the ground-level ozone standard. Thune and Manchin’s bill would also require the EPA to consider the costs and feasibility of the lower standard, which the EPA currently does not consider. Finally, the bill would prohibit the EPA from using unreliable modeling to expand non-attainment areas to many rural counties that otherwise would not be impacted by the expensive regulation.
In 2008, the permitted level of ground-level ozone, or smog, was lowered from 84 ppb to the current 75 ppb. Currently, 227 counties in 27 states are considered in non-attainment with the 75 ppb standard. The CASE Act would require 85 percent of areas currently not meeting the 75 ppb standard to meet compliance before the EPA could lower it further.