Proposed EPA Regulations Could Bankrupt U.S. Cities

Current standards already protect Americans with room to spare, says NCPA's Burnett


DALLAS (October 23, 2007) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new and unreasonable federal standard for ozone air pollution that is much stricter than the current limit, according to a new report by H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

"If these regulations are put into action, most regions of the country would be in violation of the Clean Air Act," says Burnett.  "Because the proposed standard would be lower than natural background levels of ozone in some areas, cities and counties could well bankrupt themselves trying to meet the new standard, and still fail."

Paper co-author, Joel Schwartz points out that, "A more stringent ozone standard might be worthwhile if current ozone levels posed a significant threat to human health.  However, under the current standard, levels of ozone and the pollutants that combine to form it are already declining and are already so low as to have almost no effect on human health."  For instance:

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

Making the standard stricter will not be cost free:

  • The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that every $7.5 million to $12 million in regulatory costs imposed on the economy results in one life lost.
  • The EPA estimates that attempts to meet the new standards would cost $10 billion to $22 billion per year, making it among the most expensive federal regulations ever.
  • The OMB estimates new regulations would result in at least 833 to 2,933 premature deaths, as Americans' incomes are diverted to complying with the regulations and away from housing, food, education and other things that improve people's health and welfare.

Read the NCPA report online at http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba598/