Wednesday, November 26, 2014

EPA to propose tougher rules on smog-causing ozone, setting up clash with GOP

The Environmental Protection Agency is drafting new legislation to impose stricter regulations on pollutants released adversely affecting the ozone. The Obama Administration backs the EPA's proposition, leading to new clashes between the White House and  Republican controlled congress. Recent air quality reports show higher than healthy pollutant values which lead to respiratory illnesses, which is a major problem in the United States. This legislation, if passed, will be the first increase on air quality limits since the end of the Bush Administration in 2008. The burning of fossil fuels is a main reason for the increased levels of toxins in the air. Many urban areas are hubs for ultra-high levels of air pollutants which have been linked to asthmatic attacks as well as other ailments. "We deserve to know the air we breathe is safe," EPA administrator Gina McCarthy stated in announcing the proposal. When deciding to update the law, the EPA was following a legal mandate for "bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science" to protect Americans from serious health threats. As of now the current level of acceptable toxins in the ozone level is 75 parts per billion. This new revision would lower that number to somewhere "in the range of 65-70 parts per billion. While many environmental groups have been pushing for tougher standards, closer to 60 parts per billion, nevertheless they are supporting the EPA's standards full-heartedly as this change is better than no change. GOP lawmakers have taken a vow to fight this bill tooth and nail. Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee stated their intentions to block what they say is one of the "most devastating regulations" set by the EPA in its 44 year history. Industry groups have waged war against these new restrictions warning that it will cost the economy billions in revenue. Many groups including state health and environmental agencies believe those estimations are exaggerated. Other groups point to studies presenting economic losses due to ozone-related respiratory illnesses and premature deaths. "The public should have the right to know whether or not the air they are breathing is safe," said S. William Becker the director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. He continues to say "there can be a false security thinking that levels at 75 ppb are safe to breathe when scientists are saying there are not." This new EPA policy is expected to be adopted next fall.

Should the EPA enforce stronger restrictions on air quality?
Are possible economic setbacks worth the benefits?
Should the president and the GOP work together to find a medium on this issue?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/epa-to-propose-tougher-rules-on-smog-causing-ozone-setting-up-clash-with-gop/2014/11/26/0a4670ce-756a-11e4-bd1b-03009bd3e984_story.html

4 comments:

Eddie Huang said...

I find it extremely disturbing that many Congressional Republicans are unwilling to even recognize global warming as a problem, much less attempt to remedy it. Jim Inhofe, incoming chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, doesn't, claiming that "I have offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax. That conclusion is supported by the painstaking work of the nation's top climate scientists." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Inhofe)

I'm not sure what kind of world he comes from, but I am fairly certain that global warming has not be established as a hoax by the general scientific community.

This makes me extremely uncertain of the competency of Republican leadership in formulating solutions to the problem of global warming. Likely, they will use their over oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency to hinder its efforts to curb pollution, citing industrial harm. (Which, to no one's surprise, they are already doing.)

For those who still doubt that the 75 ppb limit is harmful to the average American's health, read this article: http://www.usclimatenetwork.org/resource-database/american-lung-association-ozone-air-quality-standard-summary (it's in Microsoft Word format, and will be downloaded to your computer, so bear that in mind)

After perusing through articles, I have still yet to find a single piece of evidence that increased regulations on emissions impacts the job market and economy in a meaningful, significant way. I did, however, find some interesting information about why restricting carbon emissions wouldn't hurt the economy as much as one would expect. (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/10/16/2730271/carbon-regulations-economy/)

Though people who refuse to believe global warming is a problem will continue to exist, it's up to an informed American public to prevent them from holding important positions, which, they unfortunately aren't doing such a great job of.

ElizabethZhou7 said...

I believe the EPA should enforce stronger restrictions on air quality because the public's health should be one of our nation's top concerns. As noticed by Eddie, there currently isn't any concrete evidence that proves the GOP's view that passing this bill will damage the economy. In fact, I think not passing this bill will impact the economy far more in the long run because if more people are getting sick due to respiratory diseases, there will be less people working to support their families. Furthermore, to many Americans, healthcare can be a great financial burden. Lastly, I believe this bill should be passed as it will not only help prevent further pollution, but also make people more aware of current environmental problems facing our nation today.

Karen Chow said...

Stricter regulations on toxin levels in the ozone layer are definitely needed, with the accelerating problem of climate change. Sure, they’ll come with an economic cost, but it’s worth avoiding the future consequences of extremely high emission levels, especially on human health. We need to remember that there will be a future Earth and society that will have to live with our present choices.
It’d be great if the president and Republican-dominated Congress could work together to find a compromise. Unfortunately, with each side backing opposite platforms on the EPA’s announcement, an easy solution is more optimistic than realistic. With “GOP lawmakers already vow[ing] to fight any effort” that the EPA attempts to lower pollutant limits in the ozone, the EPA may have to compromise and move more slowly in its push for a 65-70 ppb limit, in order to make any legislative progress at all.

Jordan Kranzler said...

I definitely think that these regulations are worth it. The agency predicts that by 2025, the regulations will prevent 320,000 to 960,000 asthma attacks in children, and 750 to 4,300 premature deaths. There are economic benefits too that need to be taken into account. The asthma attacks that will be prevented will mean fewer days missed of work by people, which could increase productivity. So, in answer to the first two questions, yes, and yes. I don't think that a medium is called for; this seems straight forward, and there are economics benefits to defray some of the costs.