Lower Ozone Standard Will Crush Jobs, Study Finds

Aug 01, 2014 - 4:00pm

Senior Editor, Digital Content


Closed sign in yellow letters.
A stricter ozone standard would cause many businesses and factories to close, costing jobs, a National Association of Manufacturers' study finds.

Let’s talk a little bit about ozone. EPA acknowledges that “Nationally, average ozone levels declined in the 1980's, leveled off in the 1990's, and showed a notable decline after 2002.” Between 1980 and 2012, the national ozone average has fallen by 25%.

Despite this success, EPA is considering even stricter standards on ground-level ozone. This will cost people their jobs and hurt the economy, a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) finds.

NAM’s Ross Eisenberg explains the study’s findings at Shopfloor [emphasis mine]:

We asked NERA to model an ozone standard set at 60 parts per billion (ppb), a level EPA is currently considering and the number environmental and health advocates are asking the EPA to arrive at. According to NERA, the costs of a regulation set at this level are very, very high: $270 billion in GDP, 2.9 million lost job-equivalents, and nearly $1,600 less for the average household to spend per year. But as troubling as those numbers are, what is equally if not more troubling is the reason for them: EPA has identified only a third of the controls needed to comply with a 60 ppb standard, and the remaining two-thirds are left to what the agency calls “unknown controls.”

To meet this lower ozone standard “you’d have to start shutting down, scrapping or substantially modifying everything from power plants and factories to heavy-duty trucks, trains, farm equipment, off-road vehicles and even passenger cars,” Eisenberg writes.

The NAM study adds to other research on how costly a lower ozone standard would be on jobs and economy.

  • A 2013 study produced for the U.S. Chamber by the economic consulting firm NERA, found that reducing ozone levels to a less-stringent 65 ppb level “would reduce worker incomes by the equivalent of 609,000 jobs annually on average from 2013 through 2037.”
  • An American Petroleum Institute study found that if the standard were set at 60 ppb, “94% of the population would live in places out of compliance and subject to new emission reductions requirements.”


Map: Ozone concentrations at 60 ppb.
Source: American Petroleum Institute.

It would be one of the most expensive and expansive regulations in American history.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.