Energy and Commerce Leaders Press EPA on Economic Consequences of Proposed Ozone Standards

July 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are pressing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for more information concerning the agency's discretionary reconsideration of ambient air quality standards for ground-level ozone and its proposal to issue costly new standards. The lawmakers object to the agency's decision to voluntarily revisit and reissue the standards - a regulatory choice that is expected to destroy jobs, cost tens of billions of dollars, and stifle economic development in local communities across the nation.
 
"If finalized, these standards will impose unprecedented costs, ranging from $19 billion to $90 billion annually by your agency's own estimates, and result in new regulatory burdens for employers, businesses and already cash-strapped states and communities struggling to grow their local economies and create jobs. These would be the single most expensive environmental standards ever to be imposed by any Administration on the U.S. Economy," Upton, Whitfield, and Stearns wrote.
 
They also voiced their commitment to continued environmental progress under existing standards and regulations, but made clear a healthy national economy is essential for adequately protecting the public health and our environment. "We are committed to continuing our nation's progress towards a cleaner environment and seeing related improvements to public health. It is well documented that, under existing standards and regulations, air quality in the United States has improved considerably and will continue to do so," the members wrote.
 
"In light of the economic climate, it is important to note that your decision to issue these onerous regulations at this time is a choice - it is completely discretionary on your part. There are already stringent ozone ambient air quality standards in place that were issued as recently as 2008. Your choice to promulgate alternate costly new standards outside of the Clean Air Act's normal five-year review cycle defies common sense. The discretionary basis for such expensive decisions also raises serious questions about the Administration's priorities at a time when the nation's focus should be on economic recovery and job creation. The appropriate approach for the agency would be to follow the Clean Air Act's normal five year review process."
 
The letter requests Administrator Jackson's participation in future committee hearings that will examine the standards and their economic consequences and asks her office to provide written responses to a series of questions concerning the development of the proposed ozone standards.
 
A full copy of the letter can be found here.