Aug 13, 2015 - 1:00pm

EPA’s Ozone Rule a Bust for Vegas Transportation Projects


Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, discusses the "Grinding to a Halt" report in Las Vegas.

The list of cities grows. The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy released a new report Tuesday detailing how a proposed new regulation from the Obama administration could delay or cancel key new transportation projects in the Las Vegas region.

Grinding to A Halt takes a detailed look at the challenges Las Vegas will face in meeting EPA’s proposal to tighten ozone standards to 65-70 parts per billion, and the projects that could be delayed if the region fails to comply. An earlier report from the Institute looked at implications for the Washington, D.C. metro area.

“EPA’s proposed new ozone standards are so strict that even pristine national parks like the Great Basin and the Grand Canyon won’t be able to comply,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “Las Vegas area commuters already face some of the toughest traffic in the nation, and now key projects intended to help like Project Neon, the CC-215 Las Vegas Beltway widening, and implementation of bus rapid transit are all being threatened by unreasonable standards that the region will have extreme difficulty meeting.”

For states looking to rebuild their infrastructure, waiting for Congress to find a long-term funding plan may be the least of their problems. Because waiting in the wings is EPA’s ozone regulation.

Even though ozone levels have been declining for decades, the Obama administration wants to reduce ozone levels to between 65 and 70 parts per billion (ppb). Three hundred thirty-one counties will not be able to meet the stricter ozone standard. They will face mountains of red tape or worse. Because under the Clean Air Act, EPA is able to withhold federal transportation funds to counties not in attainment.

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