EPA continues to push for better air quality

September 8, 2015

Following its recent release of the Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making moves to introduce a strict set of new standards for ground-level ozone emissions. The organization argues that by reducing ozone emissions, it would be able to combat the prevalence of asthma in the United States, as well as prevent other health conditions.

Like many of the federal agency's moves this year, this new proposal has seen a great deal of resistance from several states and major businesses and energy providers who believe the EPA is overstepping its bounds and trying to seize power and authority over state and local governments.

One of the biggest disputes on the proposal, which suggests bringing the current ozone limit from 75 parts per billion to somewhere in the range of 65 and 70 parts per billion, is the research supporting it.

The EPA's own analysis suggests that cost of the plan to be between $3.9 billion and $15 billion, but the National Association of Manufacturers conducted its own study that concluded the cost of the regulation would be over $1 trillion, while also questioning the science behind the health hazards presented by extra ozone. For instance, manufacturers have pointed out that only 12 of the 33 studies presented by the EPA actual show a direct correlation between ozone levels and the severity and prevalence of asthma.

John Kinter, the environmental manager of Norfolk's Nucor Steel has gone as far as arguing that the technology to feasibly make these reductions simply doesn't exist. "This puts companies in a difficult spot," he says, adding that "we are being asked to make significant emission reductions, but the technology to achieve them does not exist."

Other critics, like Russell Baker, the manager of environmental and regulatory affairs for the Omaha Public Power District, have claimed that the 2008 ozone standards are enough, and that even without regulation, emissions will continue to go down as technology evolves.

Both groups and their researchers have their own biases regarding the potential regulation, and it would likely be a good idea to have extra research conducted by an uninvolved third party to get a more accurate representation of the data. 

Because of how rapidly they can change, staying on top of and following EPA regulations and policies can be difficult and time consuming. Hiring environmental consultants can help you better understand the latest government trends and regulations, and find quick, cost effective ways to meet them.