Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, and Minority Leaders Reid and Pelosi:
The undersigned, which represent a diverse group of industries from across the country, write to express our strong support for H.R. 4775, the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016.” This legislation provides a common-sense approach for implementing national ambient air quality standards, recognizes ongoing state efforts to improve air quality through a reasonable implementation schedule for the 2015 ozone standards, streamlines the air permitting process for businesses to expand operations and create jobs, and includes other reforms that bring more regulatory certainty to federal air quality standards. Additionally, the undersigned support the request by numerous members of the House of Representatives that certain elements of H.R. 4775 be included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
We have significant concerns that the 2015 ozone standards overlap with existing state plans to implement the 2008 standards, leading to duplicative and wasteful implementation schedules, and unnecessary and severe economic impacts. The new ozone standards were promulgated in October 2015, only months after states received their final guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how to implement the 2008 standards. This delay was the result of the Obama administration’s decision to halt work on the 2008 standards during a 2010-2011 reconsideration period. The EPA, however, did not account for this self-imposed delay when issuing the 2015 standards, thereby imposing duplicative costs and burdens of implementing multiple standards simultaneously. This is particularly wasteful as the EPA itself projects that nearly the entire country would attain the 2015 standards simply by being provided an opportunity to fully implement their state implementation plans for the 2008 standards. Local economies also face severe impacts, as analysis of data indicates that the 2015 standards could expand nonattainment to more than 950 counties if reductions under the 2008 standards are not allowed time to take effect, subjecting large parts of the country to costly nonattainment control requirements.
Notwithstanding concerns expressed by thousands of elected officials, state agencies, businesses, community groups, and other stakeholders, the EPA issued the 2015 standards without addressing the overlap with the 2008 standards and the enormous impacts that dual implementation would have on limited state resources, permitting, and the economy. It is now up to Congress to address these issues, and that is why we support the introduction of H.R. 4775. By better aligning the 2015 ozone standards with the 2008 standards and their associated emissions reductions, H.R. 4775 will help prevent unnecessary nonattainment designations and cost burdens, without sacrificing environmental protection. The legislation’s permitting relief and other reforms are also an important step towards air standards that balance environmental protection and economic development.
In sum, H.R. 4775 and the related appropriations request provide a common-sense plan that maintains continued air quality improvement without unnecessarily straining state and local economic resources.
We strongly encourage Congress to act quickly on this critical legislation.