EPA Proposes New Smog Standard

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed a stricter standard for pollutants that cause smog, a rule that would affect utilities, manufacturers, oil refiners and automakers. The new standard, if approved, would impose moderate to large costs but also have impressive health benefits for millions of people.

The proposal would change the primary standard for ground-level ozone of no more than 0.075 parts per million, as imposed by the Bush administration, to 0.06 to 0.07 parts per million, but phased in over the next two decades.

The EPA estimates that this standard would cost the aforementioned industries between $19 billion and $90 billion a year by 2020 but would be offset by the benefits to people’s health, valued at $13 billion to $100 billion a year over the same period. The money would come from the savings born by 12,000 fewer premature deaths from heart and lung disease, as well as thousands of cases of bronchitis, asthma and non-fatal heart attacks avoided.

Obviously, environmental interests are lining up on one side of the argument — the National Association of Clean Air Agencies even thinks the EPA’s cost-to-industry numbers will turn out to be lower — while industry lines up on the other. The American Petroleum Institute derided the rule, saying it would cause job losses and raise energy costs.

The EPA offered no specifics on how the proposal might affect automakers, but one may assume they will oppose the new rule as well.

EPA Asks for Stricter Rules for Pollutants Causing Smog (New York Times)

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