Dear Mr. President:
This week you are scheduled to address the nation’s mayors—the lawmakers responsible for the economic prosperity and development in cities across the country. As you do, the undersigned organizations, representing a broad spectrum of the economy, write to express our deep concern with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. In September 2011, you instructed the Administrator of the EPA to withdraw the-then pending ground-level ozone rule, citing the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and uncertainties as the economy struggled to recover from recession.1 The concerns you identified in 2011 still very much persist for our organizations today and we fear that the costs, delays and barriers to growth associated with a new ozone rule will have a severely negative impact on the U.S. economy, our international competitiveness and jobs.
The EPA’s proposed ozone rule could be the most expensive regulation in U.S. history. It is being contemplated at a time when air quality, which is better than it has been in decades, will continue to improve due to yet-to-be implemented investments whose benefits have yet to be fully realized. In fact, ozone levels have fallen 33 percent since 1980,2 and the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb), set in 2008, is just now being implemented. In addition, regulations and investments to improve fuel economy, increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions from stationary and mobile sources will drive further air quality improvements over the next decade, and beyond.
The objectives of this regulation are important: ensuring clean and safe air for the public and environment. We are committed to these objectives. However, the simple fact is that we have reached a point with this particular policy that regulatory flexibilities are diminishing and technological feasibility is lacking. We are committed to striving for additional improvements in environmental protection, but we need policies that allow us to grow, innovate and unlock the next generation of technological breakthroughs.
In the name of promoting a clean environment and a strong economy, we urge you to follow the lead set by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities and National Association of Regional Councils in their March 17, 2015 letter3 and instruct the EPA to retain the existing 2008 ground-level ozone standard, which has still not been fully implemented.