The EPA is at it again. On the heels of its proposed rules on carbon and water, the EPA released its proposal to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. The Arizona Chamber submitted comments last night with more than 15 other chambers of commerce in opposition to the EPA’s proposed rule.
As Arizona’s job creators, we place great value on clean air and a healthy environment. But we also want a healthy economy. This is just another expensive mandate handed down from Washington that makes it harder for businesses to grow and invest.
Under the EPA’s proposed range, the entire state of Arizona stands to be classified as a non-attainment area. Permitting delays, restrictions on construction, and threats to our federal transportation funding are just a few consequences of non-attainment that will undoubtedly make it more difficult for our state to attract and retain businesses.
Even more troubling is the cost of implementation to the state of Arizona if the EPA chooses to lower the standard. According to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers, if the standards are lowered to 65 ppb, Arizona will lose an estimated $7 billion in Gross State Product from 2017-2040. Never mind the fact that it will cost Arizona $5 billion just to comply with the standards. That’s less money for businesses to expand and hire new employees.
The current standard set in 2008 is yet to be fully implemented, and air quality is continuing to improve. Since the administration is yet to make a compelling case as to why the new standard is necessary, the EPA should drop the proposed rule and maintain the current standard.
A copy of our comments can be found below.
March 17, 2015
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0699
Dear Administrator McCarthy:
The undersigned organizations represent Arizona’s business community, and we write to express our opposition to the proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) regarding the proposed lowering of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”) for ozone, Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0699 (“proposed rule”). The proposed rule would modify the existing primary and secondary standards for ozone air pollution concentrations.
Representing Arizona’s business leaders and job creators across all sectors of the economy, we place great value in having and promoting a safe and healthy environment while maintaining a positive and reasonable regulatory climate. However, we are deeply concerned about the proposed lowering of the ozone standards because of the additional regulations that will be placed on business and industry, as well as the lasting economic consequences it will have on the state of Arizona and its residents.
Should the EPA choose to lower the standards from the current 75 ppb, a majority of Arizona’s counties are likely to contain an area that would be designated non-attainment. This will be the case even in counties where there is little industrial and vehicle activity because of the significant background ozone levels found in the Intermountain West and Southwest. Not only are altitude and topography contributing factors to background ozone, but so are biogenics, lightning, wildfires, stratospheric intrusions, and regional/international transport. All of these factors contribute to Arizona ozone concentrations, and many have no associated control options. As such, Arizona’s rural counties will be particularly impacted by any revision to the ozone standards as they would have no reasonable and feasible control technologies to address a non-attainment designation.
The repercussions that result from a non-attainment status will make it more difficult for our state to attract and retain businesses. Permitting delays, restrictions on facility construction, and threats to our federal transportation funding due to non-attainment designations will adversely affect Arizona’s economic development and growth.
If EPA finalizes lowered standards in the range of 65-70 ppb, the stringent standards will increase the regulatory burden on Arizona businesses in areas that are designated non-attainment for the revised NAAQS. For example, if a company needs to build a major new facility or modify an existing one that could significantly increase emissions of ozone-precursor pollutants (nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds) in or near a non-attainment area, they would be required to offset these emissions by reducing emissions from other existing sources. These facilities also would be required to meet the most stringent emissions control mechanisms under the Clean Air Act, regardless of cost. Not only would this put Arizona at a competitive disadvantage with other states, it would make the United States a less attractive place to do business. At a time when the country is slowly recovering from an economic recession, the proposed range cannot be justified.
The consequences of a non-attainment designation also have a significant impact on transportation and infrastructure development, which is vital to moving goods quickly and efficiently throughout our state and the country. Shortly after an area is designated non-attainment for the new NAAQS, federally-supported highway and transportation projects cannot proceed until the state can demonstrate that the project will not cause an increase in ozone emissions.
We are also very troubled by the cost of implementation to the state of Arizona if the ozone standards are lowered any further. According to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers, if the standards are finalized at 65 ppb, Arizona will lose an estimated $7 billion in Gross State Product from 2017 to 2040. Even more concerning is the projected $5 billion in total compliance costs to our state alone.
Furthermore, as we acknowledged in our comments on EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, access to an affordable and reliable energy supply is critical to the state’s economic growth and prosperity. EPA also must consider how this NAAQS proposal impacts Arizona’s ability to comply with the stringent requirements of the Clean Power Plan. Compliance with the Clean Power Plan as currently drafted would require installation of new generation resources, which may be impossible to implement under more stringent standards.
There are also several flaws within the proposed rule. Perhaps the most significant is the EPA’s failure to fully address the impact of transported pollutants. The precursors of ozone and ozone itself are easily and naturally transported from their point of origin to downwind locations. Arizona stands to be negatively impacted by transported ozone from foreign countries and neighboring states. Additionally, the current standard set in 2008 is yet to be fully implemented. The EPA should allow states the time to fully implement the current standard before taking any further action.
On behalf of Arizona’s business community, we strongly encourage the EPA to maintain the current ozone standard for the reasons set forth above. We appreciate the opportunity to comment.
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Arizona Manufacturers Council
Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce
Chandler Chamber of Commerce
Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce
Gilbert Chamber of Commerce
Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce
Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce
Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce
Mesa Chamber of Commerce
Prescott Chamber of Commerce
Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce
Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce
Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce
Tempe Chamber of Commerce
Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce
Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce
Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture
Yuma County Chamber of Commerce