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Business Groups, Blunt Oppose Obama Administration Ozone Rule

Ameren Power Plant
Veronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Missouri business leaders, oppose what some have labeled as the Obama administration’s “most expensive regulation ever.” The proposed rule would reduce ground-level ozone, or smog, from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion. The current standards of the Clean Air Act were set in 2008.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy says the new rule is necessary for public health reasons. “Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk.

An agency statement on the proposed rule says that studies indicate that exposure to ozone at levels below the current standard can pose serious threats to public health. It also says that for every dollar invested in meeting the new standards there will be a return of three dollars in health benefits from avoiding asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days and premature deaths, among other health effects.

Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Dan Mehan says he just doesn’t believe the EPA’s health claim. “If it were such an epidemic as these people are supposedly saying, where’s the proof, where’s the evidence, where are the people getting sick. It’s just not happening.”

Mehan says the costs to meet the new standards would be “astronomical” and would “stifle manufacturing growth and resurgence in the state of Missouri.” Mehan also says that a survey of more than 1,000 employers in the state, done in cooperation with the Gallop Organization, shows “that these types of regulations are tops on things that employers are concerned about, and will hold back their growth. That’s straight from employers throughout Missouri,” said Mehan.

Shortly after the EPA released the proposed rule, Blunt released a statement by email. “The last thing workers and families in Missouri need is yet another burdensome regulation that will further stifle jobs and economic opportunity. I look forward to participating in a thorough review of this costly rule in the new Republican-led Congress.”

Blunt is a co-sponsor of legislation that would prohibit the EPA from imposing new ozone standards until at least 85 percent of counties across the U.S. meet the existing standard.