All industry in Texas, not just the oil and gas industry, could be harmed by new ozone regulations proposed by the EPA. If there were recognizable health benefits, they would probably be worth it. In fact, the EPA has been trying to sell its new, tighter ozone standards based on its claims that they would provide substantial health benefits. However, the American Petroleum Institute, in a recent study entitled Summary and Critique of the Benefits Estimates in the RIA for the Ozone NAAQS Reconsideration, has found that the EPA has misrepresented the benefits of EPA’s proposed new ozone standards.
The EPA’s figures are based on escalating benefits due to ozone-related mortality, even though the EPA has found no causal link between ozone levels and mortality. The result could be that industries are forced to make changes to produce less ozone, while the savings that they produce would never materialize.
The EPA seeks to tighten regulations that were put in place under President Bush in 2008. It claims that while the cost would be $90 billion per year, the costs would be offset by $100 billion per year in savings from medical expenses and missed workdays. However, the API study found that ozone benefits alone do not produce these savings. The EPA’s “savings” are based in part on cuts in soot pollution that may occur because of the new regulations. The problem with this is that soot pollution has nothing to do with ozone pollution. The API declares that, overall, the EPA’s plan for tightening standards is “out-of-cycle, not supported by science, and would have devastating economic consequences.” What’s more, the EPA has no idea how the new standards would be met, but one guarantee is that they would have a heavy impact on business, especially large businesses. Khary Cauthen, API’s government affairs director, predicts that “operations would close and business moved elsewhere. This isn’t a recipe on how to rebuild an economy.”
These findings throw a wrench in President Obama’s plans to tighten environmental regulations. While normally, the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review regulations every five years, the administration claims that the standards need to be tightened sooner because the Bush administration ignored the EPA scientific panel’s recommendations. Yet by ignoring the five-year standard, the administration risks catching businesses off guard, which would make it even harder for them to meet the new stringent standards. Khary Cauthen believes that the president should pull the new regulations and wait until 2013 before making any changes. Obama has claimed that he wants regulations based on “science, not politics,” and that he would weigh the costs on businesses and local communities before enacting a rule. The API findings ought to give him plenty of reasons to rethink the new regulations, unless the president believes no other scientists besides the pseudo-scientists at the EPA are credible. There is mounting evidence that this is exactly what he believes.
The API’s findings are a cautionary tale for everyone who thinks that more EPA regulation equals instant health benefits without any real cost to the community. While Texas has been fortunate to escape much of the economic turmoil that has hit the rest of the country, our industries are still vulnerable and could suffer immeasurable harm if Obama allows the new regulations to be set in place. API has urged the public to get in touch with the White House to let the president know that these new regulations could mean lost jobs. The price is too high for the Obama administration to ignore a five-year review precedent that every other administration has followed until now.
What is ultimately most incredible to me is that our tax dollars are being used to fund this pseudo-science going on at the EPA!