Friday, October 2, 2015

EPA finalizes new ground-level ozone standard

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has met its court-ordered Oct. 1 deadline for final revisions to the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In the final rule, EPA tightened the ozone standard to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from the current level of 75 ppb.

Your Home Builders Association joined the National Association of Home Builders and nearly a dozen other state and local HBAs to submit comments on the proposed rule, urging the agency to maintain the current standard. Tighter limits can lead to job loss and hurt local economies as jurisdictions are forced to curb air pollution levels through tighter limits on diesel emissions — potentially curtailing home building and development — cutbacks in manufacturing and other sources and through more stringent auto emissions testing.

Among issues highlighted in those comments was the fact that the current 2008 standard is still being implemented. Any revision to the standard will greatly enlarge the number of affected areas throughout the country.

EPA originally proposed revising the standard on a range from 65-70 ppb. The final decision by the Administrator concluded that a standard of 70 ppb will provide the adequate margin of safety the law requires.

Impact on the Upstate
In the Upstate the new standard should have little, if any impact.  The region is in compliance with both the existing and the new standard.  Unless pollution levels change significantly, the Upstate has dodged a bullet with this new rule.

This decision mitigates the potential impact of the proposed rule in some areas, but will still broaden the impact of the regulation both in states with experience implementing the ozone standard and in newly affected states.

Indeed, as NAHBNow recently reported, 13 areas determined by EPA to be in compliance with the 2008 standard will likely now be deemed out of compliance with the revised 2015 standard.

According to EPA, the estimated costs of implementing the regulation will be $1.4 billion with estimated public health benefits ranging from $2.9 to 5.9 billion annually in 2025. As a result, the net benefits for the final rule range from $1.5 to $4.5 billion nationwide, except for California, which EPA analyzed separately because areas in the state are not required to meet the existing standard by 2025 and may not be required to meet a revised standard until sometime between 2032 and 2037, and where the net benefits are estimated at $0.4 to $1.3 billion.

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