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Howard Feldman's remarks at press conference call ahead of proposed Ozone NAAQS regulations

Press conference call ahead of proposed Ozone NAAQS regulations
Howard Feldman, API director of regulatory and scientific affairs
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and thanks for joining our call.

In the next few days, possibly tomorrow or Friday, we expect EPA to issue its proposal for the five-year review of Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

We’re urging the agency to include the current standards, which were set in 2008 at 75 parts per billion, in the range they consider for a new rule.

Further tightening the 2008 ozone standards – the most stringent ozone standards ever – is a major concern because of the potential cost and impact on the economy.

It’s important to remember that air quality has improved dramatically over the past decades, and air quality will continue to improve under the existing standards.

After all, states have only just begun to implement the 2008 standards. In fact, EPA’s implementation guidance for the 2008 rule has not yet been released. We should let states finish implementing the current standards before we start proposing new ones.

The challenges of meeting new standards would be massive and disruptive to the current plans already underway by states and the EPA.

Furthermore, the current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence of a need for more stringent standards. Current standards are protective of public health.

But there’s one thing we do know: tightened standards would impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas.

For a primary ozone standard of 60 parts per billion, which is one of the proposals EPA is considering, 94 percent of the population lives in places that would be deemed to be out of compliance and therefore those areas would be subject to new or additional emission reductions requirements.

What does this mean?

With new standards that approach or are even lower than peak naturally occurring levels, virtually any human activity that produced emissions could ultimately be restricted or affected.

In some cases, new development simply would not be feasible or permitted.

Even pristine areas with no industrial activity such as national parks would be out of attainment.

Almost every state in the union could have non-attainment areas, which could necessitate new restrictions on businesses of all sizes and additional bureaucracy on the state and local levels.

Needless to say, operating under such stringent requirements could stifle new investment necessary to create jobs and grow our economy.

A recent NERA report reveals that a new ozone regulation from the Obama administration could cost $270 billion per year and place millions of jobs at risk.

This would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public.

Furthermore, the controls and technology required to lower emissions to these low standards do not exist, and EPA has provided no contingency plan for how to meet lower standards.

I’d like to reiterate that our industry operates under extensive rules that, along with the industry’s own best practices and standards, have enabled it to steadily improve safety and reduce environmental impacts.

Our fuels are much cleaner today, and so are our facilities.

Indeed, that’s a primary reason why so much national progress has been made over the decades improving air quality. EPA emissions data confirm this.

We can build on this progress without going to stricter and potentially very damaging standards that EPA may soon propose.

Given the continued progress in air quality under existing rules, the lack of compelling health data, and the potentially severe impact on the economy and consumers nationwide, we have urged EPA to include the retention of the existing standards in the proposal for consideration. It makes good policy sense.

Ultimately, with a fair analysis of the record, we believe retaining the existing standards of 75 parts per billion will be the right policy choice.

Thank you. And now I’d be happy to take your questions.