Image courtesy of The White House/Flickr.

New ozone standards proposed by the Obama administration could be the costliest ever, industry group American Petroleum Institute said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to revise the federal ozone standard down to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion from the current standard of 75 parts per billion.

The agency is also soliciting comment on an alternative standard that could be as low as 60 parts per billion.

In a policy assessment of the proposed changes the EPA said the revisions are designed to increase protection “against vegetation-related effects on public welfare.”

The ozone standard was most recently revised in 2008 but many state and localities have not instituted those changes yet.

“EPA should give state and local governments a chance to meet the most recent standards before changing them again,” API said.

According to API 45 out of the lower 48 states would have areas that are out of compliance if a 65 parts per billion standard were implemented, a figure that would rise to 46 states if a 60 parts per billion standard were adopted.

“This rule could be the costliest regulation ever imposed on the American public. A lower standard could, for little or no health benefit, significantly constraint our nation’s economy and eliminate thousands of jobs,” API senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs Howard Feldman said.

In an editorial published by CNBC Senators Jim Inhofe and John Thune said the proposed revision “distorts the need for balance between environmental progress and economic growth.”

Lowering the ozone standard to 60 parts per billion could cost the economy $270 billion per year and endanger millions of jobs, a report by NERA Economic Consulting said.

“Peer reviewed science confirms that the current standards are protecting public health. The nation’s air is getting cleaner, and air quality will continue to improve as we implement the existing standards,” Feldman said.

In a comment to regulators the API said there are “problems with EPA’s application of the models used to estimate increases in health effects from ozone exposure” that resulted in a systematic overestimation of “true risks.”

The API is urging the Obama administration to keep the standard at its current level.

“We question the wisdom and the motivation behind burdening our nation’s still recovering economy and the American consumer with more, costly regulations before the current regulations have been given time to work,” Feldman said.

The EPA expects to reach a final decision on the proposed changes by October 1, 2015.




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