Costly Rules Will Move Forward Now That Election Is Over

Now that the national election has passed, many of the environmental regulations that were delayed or put on hold before the election are moving or will move forward. These are regulations that were in various stages of development prior to the election but which were delayed for various reasons. Many said at the time that the Obama Administration was not willing to face the economic consequences of these rules at a politically inconvenient time.

The ozone standard provides a general example of the regulations to be implemented over the next four years. In March, 2008, the ozone standard was lowered to 0.075 parts per million (ppm) from 0.080 ppm. However, in 2009, the Obama Administration announced it would review that action because it was not stringent enough. EPA claimed that the standard should be between 0.060 and 0.070 ppm to be fully protective of human health. Eventually, the EPA settled on 0.070 ppm, which would create a situation in which at least 650 counties violate the lower standard and would thus be subject to more stringent permitting (and economically costly) regulations. However, in 2011, at the outset of the election cycle, it was announced that the review would be put on hold until 2013, the next mandated review period. It was widely reported at the time that the decision to delay the review until 2013 was politically motivated. In other words, the administration did not want to implement the lower standard because it would negatively impact employment at a politically sensitive time.
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Recent EPA Decisions Impacting Business Opportunities

The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are air quality standards that are set for pollutants, such as ozone and sulfur dioxide (SO2), at levels necessary to protect the public from adverse effects from that pollutant.  If an area exceeds the level, controls and restrictions are placed on emission sources within the area until the standard is achieved.

However, while these controls and restrictions may serve to reduce the level of pollutants over time, they also serve to make growth and expansion more expensive and difficult.  A company seeking to construct or expand a facility in a non-attainment area generally must spend additional money to install the mandated air pollution control equipment.  These added costs, along with additional permitting costs, may make the project too expensive.  In turn, suppliers, contractors, and others who might be involved in the project do not realize that opportunity.  Anyone doing business in the Houston or Baton Rouge areas know the limitations imposed by a failure to attain the NAAQS for ozone. Continue reading “Recent EPA Decisions Impacting Business Opportunities”