The EPA recently proposed new regulations that would dramatically lower ozone emission standards. Under the new standards, as many as 100 state and national parks would fail the test. And the compliance costs for public authorities and private businesses will number in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Indeed, the EPA's new ozone rules could be the most expensive regulations in America's history. They will destroy jobs and stunt economic growth throughout the country. The government should avoid the temptation to overregulate and reject this proposal.
Ozone is a naturally occurring gas that helps shield the Earth from the sun's rays. But when ozone interacts with emissions from industrial factories, cars, and electric utilities, it can cause serious health issues.
According to the EPA's own data, roughly 60 percent of the country would fail to meet the proposed rules change, which lowers the amount of ozone allowed from 75 parts per billion to about 60 parts per billion.
The proposal's impact on the U.S. economy would be devastating. The compliance costs for companies could hit upwards of $140 billion a year, according to a report by NERA Economic Consulting. And the rule change would destroy about 1.4 million jobs annually.
This burden would fall hardest on small businesses. On average, these firms already fork over $35,000 a year toward regulatory compliance. Mom-and-pop businesses typically run on very thin profit margins. Even minor upticks in operations costs could sink them.
Even President Obama has recognized this ruling's potential to kills jobs and devastate the economy. In 2011, he blocked a nearly finalized version of similar regulations from the EPA. In his own words, Obama opposed the ozone standards in an effort to "underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty."
The EPA claims the proposed ozone rule would generated public health benefits worth up to $38 billion.
That calculation is likely way off. According to a report by the research group Energy in Depth, the agency's figure is about 3,100 percent higher than its 2011 calculation for the same exact regulation. Somehow the economic benefits for the same environmental standard mysteriously jumped from $700 million to as much as $38 billion within a few years.
The Environmental Protection Agency is either conveniently excluding very real economic costs from its analysis, or inflating the rule's health benefits to justify federal overreach.
What's more, existing ozone standards are already doing a terrific job at improving air quality. These new regulations are unnecessary.
Indeed, Americans today are breathing the cleanest air in over 30 years. Since 2010, the ozone levels in the United States have plummeted by almost 20 percent. Over the same period, this country has cut both carbon and nitrogen monoxide emissions by more than 40 percent.
The federal government is about to issue an ozone regulation so stringent that even its own national parks cannot comply. This tightening would devastate American businesses and cost the economy billions in lost growth. This proposal needs to be scrapped before it can take effect.
Drew Johnson is a Senior Fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to limited, responsible government.