Chamber Praises Air Pollution Task Force Findings on International Ozone Levels and U.S. Air Quality

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - 8:00pm

WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Chamber of Commerce today applauded the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution (HTAP), which released a draft interim study finding that emissions from foreign nations constitute a significant share of the background ozone levels; thus making it very difficult for localities to meet the new more restrictive standards being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

"This confirms what the Chamber has been saying for years: emissions from China, India, Mexico, and Africa don't just disappear—they come to the United States," said Bill Kovacs, Chamber vice president for Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs. "It would be ludicrous for EPA to revise any NAAQS, let alone the standards for ozone, without first considering the impact of these extraterritorial emissions."

The draft HTAP report comes just one day prior to the issuance of EPA's proposed rule tightening the ozone NAAQS. EPA's scientific advisors unanimously recommended to lower the current standard of 84 parts per billion (ppb) to either 70 ppb or 60 ppb, a measure that would double, or even triple, the number of U.S. counties in non-attainment. Economic consequences of non-attainment are serious: non-attainment counties can lose federal highway and transit funding; restrictive permit requirements deter companies from building new plants or modifying existing ones; and mandated federal pollution control measures inhibit business expansion as local plans for economic development are put on hold.

"Counties in non-attainment are essentially 'redlined' and lose business permanently," said Kovacs. "Today's HTAP draft interim report is a valuable first step toward subtracting out the foreign air emissions from the domestic totals so that U.S. counties are fairly evaluated and don't suffer unfair economic harm."

The Chamber has pressured EPA to consider emissions from foreign nations in its regulation of air pollutants. Last year, the Chamber filed a petition for rulemaking with EPA requesting it to implement Clean Air Act Section 179B, which creates exemptions from non-attainment status if a state can show that it would have been in compliance with the NAAQS "but for" emissions emanating from outside the United States. EPA recently told the Chamber that it has been working to assess the impact of these extraterritorial emissions on domestic air emissions levels.

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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