Under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for setting National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for various air pollutants, ozone included.
But their latest ruling on ozone is riddled in controversy, as opponents state it is not only unsupported by scientific evidence but also set to cost the United States dearly in the form of a trillion dollars and millions of lost jobs.
What’s the New Ozone Standard All About?
In 2009, the EPA decided it would reconsider the ozone standard, which was set at 0.075 parts per million (ppm) in 2008. In 2010, they proposed a new standard in the range of 0.060 to 0.070 ppm, with an additional secondary “seasonal” (and even more stringent) standard designed to protect sensitive vegetation and ecosystems, including forests, parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas during the summer.
The final rule was released at the end of July 2011i after a temporary delay.At the time, opponents like Andrew Grossman, a frequent adviser to Congress on complex legal and policy issues, had rejoiced, statingii :
“Congress should make the EPA’s temporary postponement of its new ozone standards a permanent one.”
In the end, the EPA set the new ozone standard at 0.070 ppm. Why all the backlash over what seems on face value to be a positive move for health and the environment?