The Environmental Protection Agency has released proposed new regulations to control ground level ozone–commonly known as smog. The tighter standards, which would limit the concentration of ozone in the air to a level of 65 to 70 parts per billion (PPB), down from the current standard of 75 PPB. The proposed new standards are the result of a review mandated by the Clean Air Act, and would go into effect in December, 2015. VOX has a good explainer about the new rules and the impact of ground level ozone here.
What would all of this mean for Georgia, which only recently came into compliance with the current standards, which were issued in 2008? The EPA produced a map of the U.S. showing counties that would not be in compliance with a 70 PPB standard (dark blue), and the additional counties that would be out of compliance with a stricter 65 PPB (light blue). The Georgia portion of that map is at right.
As you might expect, the metro Atlanta counties would be impacted with a 70 PPB standard. Included would be Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties. In middle Georgia, Pike and Bibb counties would also be out of compliance. With the stricter 65 PPB standard, Clarke, Columbia, Murray, Paulding and Richmond counties would be in violation.
In addition to having to put up with smog alert days and possibly additional counties with emissions inspections, what would it mean to Georgia. One area the would be impacted is manufacturing, and the jobs industry brings to the Peach State. Congressman Lynn Westmoreland recently supplied information on how the proposed regulations will impact Georgia:
“Made in America”: it’s something our nation is proud to stamp onto our produced goods. However, with the Obama Administration and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) newest regulation proposals, that tagline might become too costly for our manufacturers and plants.
In the president’s latest climate change push, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said these new set of regulations targeting air quality could “be the most expensive ever.” The proposed regulation would attempt to limit smog-creating ozone pollution to a range of 60 to 70 parts per billion after 2020 from power plants and factories: both of which are abundant in Georgia and provide invaluable jobs in a recovering economy. Our nation’s current range, set by President George W. Bush, sits at 75 parts per billion. Back in July, NAM estimated that implementing a strict version of the rule could kill off $3.4 trillion in economic output and 2.9 million jobs by 2040. A high price to pay for small change.
Such low emissions requirements mean many of our nation’s plants are out of compliance, and can force manufacturers to stop production while they search for money and ways to avoid fines. The compliance to such strict rules also drives up energy costs for all Americans. In addition to other EPA air regulations proposed, Georgians alone are looking at a 15-20% increase in electricity costs- a huge threat to households when every penny is still incredibly valuable. While President Obama seems to be seeking the approval of special interest groups over these past few months, at what cost does he draw the line to protect American jobs, energy production, and manufacturers?
The proposed new regulations could cost $17 billion per year to implement, but could mean a $38 billion gain in health benefits annually. That being said, the EPA is prohibited by law from conducting a cost-benefit analysis for its proposals, and no one really knows what it will cost to bring the country into compliance.