- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
During the proceedings leading to last month’s EPA decision to reduce allowable smog causing emissions, efforts intensified by those seeking to change the minds of agency members.
The new tougher standards – the agency decided on a 0.075-ppm eight-hour attainment threshold – are expected to require hundreds of areas across the United States to increase efforts to lower smog-causing emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks.
While environmental groups argued for a 0.060- to 0.070-ppm standard consistent with last year’s recommendation by an independent panel of scientists, industry lobby groups claimed the old 0.080 ppm was sufficient to protect human health. According to the EPA panel, a reduction of ozone to 0.070 ppm could lower nonfatal heart attacks by 2,300; acute bronchitis, asthma attacks and other respiratory problems by 48,000; reduce hospital respiratory-related visits by 7,600, and result in 890,000 fewer work or school absences. However, those are lofty goals; the new standard of 0.075 ppm has already quadrupled the number of U.S. counties not in attainment.
Manufacturing groups met with officials and argued that the changes would add to the hardships of the economy at this time by requiring additional expensive air pollution controls in the affected counties. Edison Electric Institute officials directly approached members of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who has to sign off on the EPA’s decision.
“Our position is that the existing standard adopted in 1997 should remain in place,” said Daniel Riedinger, a spokesman for the group, which represents investor-owned power companies. Visit www.epa.gov/groundlevelozone/pdfs/2008_03_finalrule.pdf for the final rule.