Agencies Question Benefits of Proposed Clean Air Rules

April 9, 1997

New regulations for concentrations of ground-level ozone and particulate matter (PM) in the air proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency are controversial. In addition to businesses and officials in the many areas of the country that would be affected by measures to meet the national air quality standards, a number of federal agencies criticized the costs, benefits and science behind the regulations during the interagency review process.

  • The President's Council of Economic Advisers estimated that the cost of full attainment for the ozone standard could be up to $60 billion -- rather than the $2.5 billion a year claimed by the EPA
  • The CEA also noted that the EPA's own staff paper "indicates that the evidence linking ozone concentrations and mortality is not strong enough to warrant considering mortality reduction" among the benefits to be gained.
  • The Department of Transportation pointed out that the required Regulatory Impact Analysis filed by the EPA "...excludes transportation control measures. These may be the most costly elements of further emissions reductions."

Furthermore, the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy said that there has not been enough research to link particulates to deaths or diseases, much less explain how the particulates cause such effects.

  • The Department of Commerce suggested that much of the particulate matter is created naturally: "For example, Saharan dust can be detected on the Eastern coast of the U.S. during extended periods."
  • The Small Business Administration disputed EPA claims that the ozone standard wouldn't significantly affect small business and urged it to "convene a small business advocacy review panel as required by the new Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)."
  • The Department of Agriculture stated that in some cases "areas implementing all available control technology" will not be able to meet the standards.

Both the interagency review and public comment period for the proposed regulations have ended, and EPA Administrator Carolyn Browner is expected to announce the finalized rules in a few weeks.

Source: Dana C. Joel, "Surprising Critics of the New Clean Air Standards: The U.S. Government," Issue Analysis No. 47, April 9, 1997, Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, 1250 H Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 783-3870.

 

Browse more articles on Environment Issues