In a flashback to 2011, Obama is once again staring down the barrel of a controversial regulation to limit smog-creating ozone pollution. The EPA’s proposed regulation ― which would lower the threshold of ground-level ozone pollution considered healthy to breathe ― is already being decried by opponents as “the most expensive regulation ever.”
Obama nixed a similar version of the rule in 2011, claiming that he was acting to “underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty.” Yet with his recent actions on immigration, education and health care, many are left wondering whether Obama will keep his commitment to “reducing regulatory burdens” in the face of the EPA’s new proposal.
The proposal itself would lower the existing acceptable ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to somewhere between 65 and 70 ppb ― though the EPA’s science advisers would rather see limits closer to 60 ppb. According to the EPA and environmentalist groups, lowering the amount of acceptable ozone would increase public health, reduce illness and premature deaths, and lead to $21.2-$42.1 billion in benefits, contrasted with $16.6 billion in costs.
Opponents of the regulation warn that lowering the limit would stifle economic growth, drastically reduce jobs, and wipe out trillions of dollars in economic output. A July study by the National Association of Manufacturers estimated that a strict version of the rule ― setting the limit to around 60 ppb ― would eliminate $3.4 trillion in economic output and cut 2.9 million jobs by 2040.
The EPA must make a final decision on the rule by October 1st of next year. While many argue that it’s too early to truly estimate the costs of the proposed regulation, the initial forecasts put millions of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and trillions of dollars of economic output at risk.
“By any measure, the revised ozone rule will represent one of the costliest rules ever issued by EPA,” Louisiana Senator David Vitter told Politico. The EPA’s proposal could be “one of the most devastating regulations in a series of over-reaching regulatory actions taken by this administration.”