In what has become a depressingly repeating pattern, if you take your eyes off of the EPA for too long they get up to all sorts of plans to “save” America. When they’re not fiddling around with vehicle mileage standards or cross-state emission regulation plans, they apparently spend their time taking a fresh look at ozone standards. They were originally set to issue some new guidelines on July 29 during the height of the debt debate, but the plan was temporarily tabled. Now, however, it’s back on the menu.

The U.S. economy won a temporary reprieve with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement last week that new ozone standards, which had been slated for this summer, will be delayed. The EPA’s “reconsideration” of the ozone standards it set in 2008 and issuance of more stringent standards violate all three of the fundamental values EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson pledged to honor: “science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency.”[1]

This enormously expensive regulation is unsupported by scientific evidence, violates the Clean Air Act (CAA), and appears timed to evade ongoing judicial review of the rulemaking process. Even the EPA’s estimate that the new rule will impose up to $90 billion in compliance costs annually[2] severely understates the impact on economic development and jobs in communities where attainment of the new standards will be impossible.

Back in 2008 the standard for ozone levels was set at an already challenging level of 75 ppb (parts per billion). Combined with other efforts, both regulatory and voluntary on the part of industry, air quality has been steadily improving from low points in the seventies. So why tinker with success, right?

Never ones to let a little think like that stop them, the EPA is now pushing to tighten the ozone standard to 60 ppb. (A proposal which has raised any number of eyebrows, since certain popular destinations fail to meet that standard today, including Yellowstone National Park.) But this will at least improve everyone’s health, right? According to a new study from NERA Economic Consulting, the health benefits are “greatly exaggerated” at best.

EPA’s assumed causal relationship between ozone and mortality has not been supported by EPA’s science advisors;

The health benefits EPA attributes to the tighter ozone standard should are due to a slight reduction in particulate matter (dust), which already is regulated separately by EPA; and

The EPA’s own data show that the benefits of the proposed ozone standard will not outweigh the costs.

But there must be some upside to this, right? We’re all supposed to focus on jobs now, as I recall. Hopefully this will at least help us out on that front!

Oh, it’s going to have an effect, alright. A study by Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI estimates that strengthening the ozone standard to 60 ppb could cost the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion per year between 2020 and 2030, and destroy 7.3 million jobs.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled banging of your heads against the wall.