House lawmakers have put forward a draft budget bill that pushes back the compliance deadlines for what’s been called one of the most expensive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations ever crafted.
The budget bill not only cuts EPA’s 2018 budget by $528 million, it also stops “many harmful and unnecessary regulations that destroy economic opportunity and hinder job creation,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said in a statement Tuesday.
An Obama-era rule for ground-level ozone, or smog, is one targeted regulation. The bill allows states extra time to comply with the 2015 ozone regulation by giving governors until 2026 to submit plans on how they will meet stricter air quality standards.
EPA estimates show nearly every U.S. county will be able to comply with the 2015 ozone rule by then using existing plans, so no extra regulatory compliance mechanisms are needed.
That would be a big win for energy-producing states and western states that struggle with high natural levels of ozone.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt already delayed action on the 2015 standard for one year, to 2018. Pruitt was also tasked by Congress to create an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force to see if more flexibility can be given to states.
EPA estimated the ozone rule would cost $2.2 billion, but yield up to $8 billion in public health benefits, largely through preventing as many as 660 premature deaths every year.
But a 2014 study by the National Association of Manufacturers found 65 parts per billion ozone standard would cost $1.13 trillion from 2017 to 2040. EPA only lowered ozone limits to 70 parts per billion, but NAM still thinks it will cost way more than EPA projects.
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