The importance of clean air is one of those things that nearly everyone can agree on. But automakers, utilities, and other industries likely to be impacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new smog regulation proposal might not be too happy about the prospect—they could end up paying through the nose to cut down on pollutants.
Under the EPA's new proposal, the acceptable amount of pollution-forming ozone will be lowered from 75 to between 60 and 70 parts per billion during any eight hour period. It's a big goal, and one that the EPA believes will cost between $19 billion and $90 billion to put into effect. It will ultimately lead to savings on health-care costs of between $13 billion and $100 billion, but it's doubtful that smog producers (industrial facilities, power plants, automakers) will accept the regulations without a fight.
The negative statements are already pouring out, with the American Petroleum Institute claiming that "there is absolutely no basis for EPA to propose changing the ozone standards promulgated by the EPA Administrator in 2008" and the National Association of Home Builders stating, "This goes well beyond the statute requirement of requisite to protect health and welfare." Los Angeles residents might have a few things to say about that, not to mention asthma sufferers in urban areas around the country.
Regardless of industry protestations, the proposed rules still have to go through 60 days of public comment before they can be implemented. Final standards will be ready to go by August 31. And at this point, our pride is at stake—even the smog levels in Shanghai are steadily dropping.