EPA Should Ease Its New Ozone Standard

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In October 2015, the Obama Administration finalized a new rule for ozone emissions, tightening the standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. As a result,  well over 200 counties nationwide are expected to be in violation of the new regulation, and will face red tape and regulatory restrictions that cripple business investment and job growth. State officials and businesses have warned that the rule will force investment capital and the jobs that come with it elsewhere, effectively forming "No Growth Zones" throughout the country.  

It will be very difficult to meet the new standards. Cost-effective solutions to achieve compliance have largely been exhausted, and in many cases the technology simply doesn't currently exist to meet the new standards. EPA itself admits that in order to comply with a 70 ppb standard, 23 percent of the reductions must come from "unknown controls" that don't currently exist. EPA's final standard is so stringent that many rural areas far from population centers and economic activity will violate the new regulation. In fact,  nine different national parks - including Rocky Mountain, Sequoia and Yosemite - measured ozone levels in 2015 that exceed EPA's tightened standard.

In addition to harsh regulatory restrictions that handcuff economic development, areas unable to demonstrate compliance face the loss of federal transportation funding for projects of all types—from highways to mass transit. Our Grinding to a Halt series takes a closer look at the potentially serious implications of EPA's standard in select metropolitan areas across the country.

Grinding to a Halt Report Grinding to a Halt Fact Sheet

City Snapshot - Washington, DC

From badly needed I-66 improvements to the long-awaited Purple line, D.C. area commuters will pay the price for EPA’s new ozone standards.  That’s why groups such as AAA Mid Atlantic, the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, and the Suburban Maryland Commuters Alliance have joined us to express concern about the proposal. 

Learn more here: Washington, D.C. Report Washington, D.C. Fact Sheet Washington, D.C. Press Release


City Snapshot - Las Vegas Region

Grinding to A Halt takes a detailed look at the challenges Las Vegas will face in meeting EPA’s proposal to tighten ozone standards to 65-70 parts per billion, and the projects that could be delayed if the region fails to comply. Under the Clean Air Act, the federal government is authorized to withhold transportation funding and halt permitting for highway and transit projects in regions unable to demonstrate compliance with emissions rules. The deadline for demonstrating conformity with the new rules will be 2018, and the Las Vegas region is among many areas across the country expected to have great difficulty complying.

Learn more here: Las Vegas Region Report Las Vegas Region Fact Sheet Las Vegas Region Press Release


City Snapshot - Denver Region

Denver has yet to meet the already stringent ozone standards set by the EPA in 2008, and this new standard would add even further insult to injury, resulting in construction delays for badly needed transportation projects and worsening traffic congestion for a growing city with existing highway capacity issues. The proposed new Ozone standard is projected to reduce employment by 11,000 jobs annually, and decrease average household incomes by $430 in Colorado alone.

Learn more here: Denver Region Report Denver Region Press Release


City Snapshot - Dallas-Fort Worth Region

Because population and vehicle traffic have increased at rates that greatly exceed growth in highway capacity, the Dallas-Fort Worth area now suffers from stifling traffic congestion. The North Central Texas Council of Governments has identified $95 billion of highway and transit projects necessary to alleviate the worst of the region’s congestion problems, including $40 billion for construction and expansion of freeways to accommodate additional vehicle capacity.

Learn more here: Dallas-Fort Worth Region Report Dallas-Fort Worth Region Press Release


City Snapshot - Southern California Region

Southern California traffic is famously congested. Because population and vehicle traffic have increased at rates that greatly exceed growth in highway capacity, stifling congestion has burdened the region’s economy and quality of life for its residents. Local officials estimate that every 10 percent decrease in Los Angeles-area congestion will create 132,000 jobs. To address these challenges, the region’s longterm transportation plans call for more than $100 billion of investments in transit as well as more than $80 billion in highway improvements (not including operations and maintenance). Federal funding and permitting of these projects will be placed at risk if the region is unable to demonstrate that they will not contribute to violations of EPA’s tightened standard.

Learn more here: Southern California Region Report Southern California Region Press Release



What Can You Do?

Help us stand up for commuters by telling EPA to ease its propose new ozone standard.  Delaying and cancelling critical infrastructure projects will add to congestion, which is worse for the environment.  Sign our petition today.