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Monday, December 17, 2007

AIR POLLUTION: Governors say new ozone standard could hurt industry

Katherine Boyle
E&E News PM

Eleven governors are criticizing an U.S. EPA proposal that could lead to a stricter ground-level ozone standard in 2008.

The governors sent a letter this week to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson saying "uncertain health and environmental benefits do not warrant a tightened standard" and asking that he delay a decision on the issue until he hears from "all interested parties."

"The scientific research on this issue does not provide compelling evidence of any health benefits," the governors wrote.

Governors from Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Texas signed on to the letter.

The letter cites Bob Meyers, deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Air and Radiation Office, as saying there are "esteemed" scientists who do not believe it is necessary to change the ozone standard.

The governors are joined in their opposition to a tighter standard by the National Association of Manufacturers, an industry group.

NAM President John Engler has called the stricter standard "excessive, unwarranted and unjustified." He says the job market and the economy could take a hard hit if it is implemented.
NAM also notes that EPA studies show key air pollutants in the United States have dropped by more than 54 percent between 1970 and 2006. Those pollutants include nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, NAM spokesman Bryan Brendle said.

Brendle also said ozone has dropped 21 percent since 1980. according to EPA data.

"There are a lot of regulations on the books now," he added. "Industry and states are working together to improve the nation's air quality under the current scheme of regulation, so I see no logic whatsoever in changing the current ozone standard."

Click here to read the proposal.