Editorial: Manufacturers making the case against EPA ozone rules

The National Association of Manufacturers has begun broadcasting a television commercial across the West, including Nevada stations, that argues that a Obama administration Environmental Protection Agency rule for reducing ozone is a futile gesture that will harm the economy and kill jobs.

The commercial notes that Western states have cut smog-causing ozone by 21 percent over the past decade, but pollution from China has offset much of that reduction.

In December the EPA issued an order cutting allowable ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion to either 65 or 70 ppb. By court order, the agency must finalize the standard by Oct. 1. (Think of 1 ppb as the equivalent of one drop of ink in the tanker of the largest gasoline tanker truck.) And the agency is contemplating cutting the allowable level to 60 ppb.

Compliance will mean shutting down or modifying power plants, factories, heavy-duty vehicles, farm equipment, off-road vehicles and passenger cars.

The manufacturers’ ad calculates the rules will cost more than $1.7 trillion — the most expensive regulation in history — and kill more than 1.4 million jobs per year.

A third of the country is out of compliance with the current standard of 75 ppb and cutting to 60 ppb would leave 95 percent of the country out of compliance.

In the West, much of the ozone is naturally occurring. A recent study found that the Great Basin area is the bulls-eye for something called stratospheric intrusions that bring ozone from the stratosphere down to the surface.

According to the EPA, Clark County at 77 ppb on average for the past three years already exceeds the current 75 ppb limit. A lower limit would put White Pine County’s 74 ppb over the line. Lyon County at 69 ppb and Washoe and Storey at 68 ppb would exceed a 65 ppb limit. Churchill would squeeze under at 56 ppb. But none of the other Nevada counties has ozone monitoring stations at this time, and thus the impact is unknown.

The manufacturers estimate the ozone rule will cost Nevada $19 billion in GDP loss from 2017 to 2040, 11,224 lost jobs per year, $174 million in total compliance cost, a drop of $750 per year in household consumption and $23 million per year to operate vehicles. Nationally, electricity bills will go up 15 percent and natural gas bills 32 percent.

Atop that, the science linking respiratory ailments to ozone levels is widely disputed and unsettled.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Tony Cox, editor of Risk Analysis, says the EPA claim that reducing ozone levels will reduce asthma and other respiratory diseases is based on unproven statistical modeling.

“Fortunately, there is abundant historical data on ozone levels and asthma levels in U.S. cities and counties over the past 20 years, many of which have made great strides in reducing ambient levels of ozone by complying with existing regulations,” Cox writes. “It is easy to check whether adverse outcomes, from mortality rates to asthma rates, have decreased more where ozone levels have been reduced more. They have not.”

He said the use of optimistic models instead of practical reality undercuts the EPA’s arguments for the new rules, especially in light of the overall costs to the economy and the workforce.

Congress needs to rein in this irrational faith-based agency.

Smog over Las Vegas in 2011. (R-J photo)

A version of this editorial appears this past week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

27 comments on “Editorial: Manufacturers making the case against EPA ozone rules

  1. Rincon says:

    Industry said the same thing in the ’70’s. “These antipollution laws are going to bankrupt the country” Boys crying wolf. As for “…reducing ozone levels will reduce asthma and other respiratory diseases is based on unproven statistical modeling”, what a crock! It’s just like the cigarette manufacturers saying the same thing 30 years ago about tobacco smoke.

    Since most people don’t know, I might as well point out that ozone is highly reactive with all sorts of materials, including metals and a variety of human tissues. Since it has 3 oxygen molecules while normal oxygen has only two, it readily splits into an oxygen radical and atmospheric oxygen. The oxygen radical reacts readily with thousands of other molecules. It’s not a matter of whether or not low concentrations damage lung tissue. They do. The only question is how much damage asthmatic lungs can withstand. Conservatives say no one can prove they can’t. Asthmatics say no one can prove that they can. Both are correct. Bottom line: If we want to keep our billionaires in the wealth to which they have become accustomed, the rest of us will just have to take a few chances with our lungs, especially asthmatics.

  2. Never let scientific studies get in the way of your scare tactics.

  3. Steve says:

    OK, Rincon.
    This was know decades ago, so regulations were put in place to decrease it. Those regulations have worked to the point that Ozone from ACROSS THE PACIFIC OCEAN is now being detected in the American West….so the solution is to lower the O3 output here?

    Tell us all, please, just HOW will reducing (to normal background levels) here stop Asian O3 from coming here, raising O3 to levels outside the those new (proposed) limits?

  4. nyp says:

    “On Friday in the Rose Garden, the story of how Washington and Beijing will fight climate change took a stunning turn as President Xi Jinping of China stood with Mr. Obama and announced that China would put in place its own national cap-and-trade system in 2017. “The ironies are rich,” said David Sandalow, a fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a former senior official in the Obama administration. “Carbon emissions trading is an American idea. Now it’s an American export. The Europeans have moved forward in implementing it. Now the Chinese are embracing it on a large scale.””


  5. Steve says:

    “Experts in Chinese climate change policy say there is reason to trust that the Chinese government will move forward with its plans to enact a cap-and-trade system on its economy — but also cause to be skeptical about whether the plans will be enforced.”

    Good. This means we change nothing while we wait for the Chinese improvement so we can see what reality is.

  6. Patrick says:

    I long for the day when conservatives argue that this should ONLY outlaw abortions (or anything else for that matter) until the Chinese do it as well.

  7. Rincon says:

    OK Steve, you have to decide which argument is correct they negate each other. If the present ozone levels are harmless, then the extra Chinese ozone is no problem. If not, then reducing our own ozone emissions is worthwhile, period. Your Chinese argument only says that it would also be worthwhile to influence China to reduce its ozone too. It does not negate in way the desirability of lowering our own emissions.

  8. Rincon says:

    “Never let scientific studies get in the way of your scare tactics.” Do you believe in science or not? First, you easily dismiss the scientific studies on global warming, but then you say that without scientific studies demonstrating definite harm from low levels of ozone, we should not proceed. Common sense says otherwise. Ozone is corrosive to lung tissue at very low concentrations. There is no reason to believe that a point exists where the damage is zero, but somehow, you divine that there is indeed such a point, despite a lack of evidence. The proper answer is to look at the cost of lowering the ozone and compare it to the likely damage to people as extrapolated from existing science. Unfortunately, this goes way beyond the simplistic logic preferred by Conservatives.

  9. Steve says:

    With all the science showing current US action is having the desired positive effects, clear proof Chinese pollution is crosssing the ocean and their stated intent to do something to clean up their own air, waiting for the improvement from Chinese action is still; somehow; wrong……


  10. Rincon says:

    As I stated, it depends on costs. You still have not shown that any level of ozone is safe.

    Why do you assume that it will only safe if it drops by a hair? That’s the degree to which China’s emissions raise our ozone. “The impact of Chinese pollution on the West Coast over the six years we looked at was relatively small… ” http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/13/chinese-pollution-is-coming-to-america.html

    Your words suggest that if we produce it, it’s no problem, but even if China contributes only a little, then it must be unhealthy, but we should still sit on our hands. Is that what you mean to say? (Don’t want to put words into your mouth). Besides, China could just say what Conservatives say about global warming: 1) The scientists are wrong. There is no ozone from China coming to the U.S. 2) Since others contribute more to the problem than they do, they need take no action. You should believe them. Their logic is the same as yours.

  11. Steve says:

    “You still have not shown that any level of ozone is safe.”

    Time to get rid of ALL the O2! Specially the background stuff, it’s positively LETHAL!

  12. Rincon says:

    Check your chemistry book. It’s O3, not O2. Not your fault. Our schools don’t do a very good job of teaching science.

  13. Rincon says:

    Just because there is a natural background level of a substance doesn’t mean it’s safe. Radon and cosmic rays are good examples.

  14. Steve says:

    OH, !!!! a typo….I know that, see the earlier posts.

    But now that you point THAT out…O2 is responsible for forest fires!

    Better get rid of that stuff!

  15. Rincon says:

    Why? Forest fires are necessary part of a healthy forest. Maybe your chemistry book isn’t the only one worth rereading.

  16. Rincon says:

    Oh, I forgot. The idea of a balanced ecosystem is anathema to a Conservative. Don’t work with nature, dominate her! Maybe you’re onto something with getting rid of oxygen. I’m sure the dangers are overhyped by Liberals. Check with the Heartland Institute. There may be some grant money for you.

  17. Rincon says:

    You never did address the fact that some background substances still aren’t safe, but I think I understand. I suppose sarcasm, innuendo and rhetoric are more fun and it’s easier to just ignore the inconvenient facts, but please give me time. I’m not used to debating in that style.

  18. Steve says:



    that is what your doing?

  19. Rincon says:

    No wonder you seem so irrational. You’re not debating at all. Instead, you’re….uh…just what ARE you doing?

  20. Steve says:

    Look, you took my words and spun the crap out of them.

    Let China live up to their promise and see what effect it has on western levels. Then we will know what the truth is.

  21. Rincon says:

    I “spun the crap” out of your words, but you decline provide any correction, restate your position differently or specify my supposed error, as always. This is getting to be vintage Steve: “I didn’t say what I said”. Sounds a little like Yogi Berra.

    China IS living up to their promise. They are the largest producer of renewable energy in the world and as of 2013, continue to invest more in green energy than any other country and more than all of Europe combined. This third world country, with a per person GDP only 1/7 as great as ours, is putting us to shame. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita http://www.forbes.com/sites/jackperkowski/2014/06/17/china-leads-in-renewable-investment-again/ http://www.globalresearch.ca/chinas-renewable-energy-revolution-what-is-driving-it/5414533

    BTW, just in case you’re feeling cocky that we have such a great GDP, note that the citizens in “failing” socialist states such as Norway, Switzerland, Australia Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg each produce more than we do. And that does not compensate for the fact that they all pay 5% of GDP less for their health care, while all of them outlive us as do their newborns. They all also have a much lower disparity of income than we do. If you’re a billionaire, the U.S. is the place to be, but for the average citizen, much of Europe has passed us like we’re standing still. Welcome to the new America produced by Reagan’s conservative revolution. Not close to the toilet, but definitely heading in that direction. But you’re convinced that the “socialism” of Europe is ruining them. Even though chanting conservative mantras is more fun, you might try looking at the evidence.

  22. Steve says:

    China said they will clean up their air, it is still not clean.
    I said we should wait for them before doing more here.

    You tried to spin my words AGAIN.

  23. Rincon says:

    Unless you can show evidence saying that China contributes to our ozone levels in a SUBSTANTIAL way, you’re advocating a fart to counter a hurricane.

  24. Steve says:

    Since you have set yourself up as the definer and approver of such information, no one is capable of providing any thing in any way shape or form that will meet your demands.

    I refer you to the source material in the article.

  25. Rincon says:

    I looked at the “source material”: Jessica Neu of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA. Are you calling them unreliable or am I putting words in your mouth again? You have found not one source, not even some crazy conservative think tank to deny their words and you say I have demands? Actually, you’re right. I demand that we discuss factual information, not fantasies with no basis in reality. I don’t mean to be difficult, but in this case, I have made demands of your position that cannot be met. I understand.

  26. Steve says:

    At the risk of repeating myself,
    You have set yourself up as the final word on sources.

    There is no discussing anything on those terms. And is a waste of time even trying.

  27. Rincon says:

    Are you saying all sources deserve equal treatment? How politically correct of you. You are welcome to comment on the quality of my sources as I do yours. In this case, I have not judged your source because you presented none.

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