WASHINGTON – Louisiana is among a coalition of states awaiting a response from federal attorneys to its opening brief in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new ozone limits.
Louisiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, Kentucky, New Mexico, Arkansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Texas filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C., arguing that the new ozone standards are unachievable and would require the halting of human activity across large parts of the country. In the opening brief filing, the states stated that this is an abuse of the EPA’s discretion.
The new standards announced by the EPA in October call for reducing ozone to 70 parts per billion. The EPA says the smog-forming pollutant is linked to asthma and respiratory illness. The lawsuit was filed shortly after the EPA’s announcement in October. Federal attorneys have until July 22 to respond to the opening brief.
“Each one of the states challenging the ozone standard has counties that will not be able to achieve the 70 parts per billion standard," Ross Eisenberg, vice president of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), told the Louisiana Record. "In many states, a great deal of the existing ozone is what is called 'background ozone,' meaning it occurs in the environment from natural sources and from other states/countries (having been blown in by the wind), and cannot be reduced by any measures taken to limit emissions within that state.”
NAM estimated that the new ozone regulation will cost Louisiana, in particular $189 billion from 2017 to 2040 to meet. Currently, the state has 17 non-attainment areas that have ozone levels that exceed the 70 parts per billion level by 1 or 2 parts per billion. The association estimates that 116,983 jobs would be lost each year because of the ozone standard, and it would cost residents statewide $10 billion more to own and operate their vehicles.
“Areas that fail to meet the 70 parts per billion standard are placed in ozone non attainment, a significant barrier to growth,” Eisenberg said. “Non attainment deters manufacturers from building or expanding in an area because the permits are so difficult to obtain versus an attainment area. Last year, the NAM polled its members and more than half stated they would not continue with a project in a non-attainment area."
According to NAM, the EPA has only identified 51 percent of the controls needed to meet the ozone standard, leaving 49 percent of reductions to be met with unknown controls the EPA has not yet identified. NAM said that this would likely mean early shutdowns and scrappage of existing facilities, equipment and vehicles, which would be a costly way to remove emissions.
“Companies building or expanding facilities in non-attainment areas are required to install specific technologies regardless of cost, and projects cannot move forward unless ozone is reduced from other sources," Eisenberg said. "These offsets are neither cheap, nor easy to obtain, and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per ton. Even manufacturers not looking to expand will be subject to restrictive new regulations in non-attainment areas. In the most severe cases, states with non-attainment areas could lose federal highway and transit funding.”