Just think of the Environmental Protection Agency as the princess and ozone as the pea, and you will get some idea of the scope of the problem.
In 2008, the EPA set the ozone standard for air quality at 75 parts per billion (ppb). That’s parts per billion. Think of 1 ppb as the equivalent of one drop of ink in the tanker of the largest gasoline tanker truck.
But now the EPA signaling that it intends to cut the standard to 70 or 60 ppb — five or 15 drops fewer — even though the states have not yet fully implemented the 2008 standard.
The agency claims researchers estimate that this would reduce annual ozone-related premature deaths by 8,000 — a highly debatable conclusion.
One of the most frequently cited benefits of reducing ozone is to children with asthma.
But a Heartland report several years noted that the incidence of asthma had doubled over the previous 25 years while ozone levels were being sharply reduced. “A government-funded study of thousands of children in California reported that children who grew up in the highest-ozone areas had a 30 percent lower risk of developing asthma, when compared with children in low-ozone areas,” the report noted, adding, “While ozone can trigger asthma attacks, the effect is small. According to estimates by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), eliminating virtually all human-caused ozone in California — where millions of people live in areas with by far the highest ozone levels in the country — would reduce asthma-related emergency room (ER) visits by only 1.8 percent.”
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of this proposed regulation is what those nine mattresses for the princess will cost.
A study by NERA Economic Consulting, commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, estimates the lower ozone standard would cost the economy $270 billion a year — the most expensive regulation ever imposed on American businesses — and eliminate the equivalent of 2.9 million jobs a year through 2040.
The price of residential electricity would increase 15 percent on average across the nation, while the price of natural gas would jump 32 percent.
The study said that manufacturers in nonattainment areas will not be able to expand operations unless another businesses in the area reduces emissions or closes its doors. Economic growth in these regions would nearly come to a standstill.
Nevada, which has been largely unaffected by the ozone standard, would be impacted even in rural counties.
The study says the Silver State’s gross state product would be reduced by $19 billion 2017 to 2040, costing 11,224 jobs a year.
And that is assuming the standard is even achievable. NERA Economic Consulting notes the EPA has identified only 39 percent of the controls needed to meet the standard. The remaining 61 percent has yet to be identified, which leaves the firm to suggest this would likely result in early scrapping of plants, equipment and vehicles, huge capital cost.
Compliance will mean shutting down or modifying power plants, factories, heavy-duty vehicles, farm equipment, off-road vehicles and passenger cars. For Nevadans it will cost $23 million more to own and operate vehicles.
That was then.
This could be the future.
“Now is not the time to sacrifice millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in pursuit of dubious benefits and unreachable targets. The EPA should put on the brakes and allow the existing ozone standards to be implemented,” argues Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, in an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal recently.