EPA Regulations Could Bankrupt U.S. Cities, Cost Millions

Current Regulations Provide More Than Enough Protection-NCPA's Burnett

DALLAS (March 12, 2008) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is slated to announce a new national ambient air quality standard at 6 p.m. (EDT) today.  If set at the level originally proposed it sets an unreasonable standard for ozone air pollution and is unnecessary, according to NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett.

"The proposed new standard is needlessly excessive," Dr. Burnett said.  "The EPA has suggested lowering the standard from 80 part per billion (PPB) to 70 to 75 ppb, which will put most regions of the country in violation.  Cities and counties could well bankrupt themselves trying to meet it with little or no improvement in human health."

Recently, Burnett coauthored a paper (http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba598/) showing that the health benefits of a lower standard may be negligent:

  • Levels of NOx (nitrogen oxide) decreased 37 percent between 1980 and 2005.
  • Emissions of volatile organic compounds fell 47 percent.
  • Peak 8-hour ozone levels declined 20 percent, and
  • Days per year exceeding the 8-hour standard fell 79 percent.

"Under the current standard, levels of ozone and pollutants that combine to form ozone are already so low as to have no effect on human health," said Joel Schwartz, coauthor of the paper.  In addition, meeting the standard will be expensive for local governments and their taxpayers. 

  • The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that every $7.5 million to $12 million in regulatory costs results in one life lost.
  • The EPA estimates that attempts to meet the lower standard will cost $10 billion to $22 billion per year, making it among the most expensive federal regulations ever.
  • OMB estimates the lower standard will result in at least 833 to 2,933 premature deaths as Americans' incomes are diverted away from expenses that improve their health and welfare-housing, food, education, etc.-in order to comply with the lower standard.

"Furthermore," Burnett said, "the timing of the EPA's teleconference suggests at the very least a lack of confidence in their recommendation. The EPA evidently wanted a full news cycle to get nothing but their side of the story out."