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U.S. House Committee Examines New Ozone Standard

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Oct. 27, 2015—On Thursday, the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing titled, “EPA’s 2015 Ozone Standard: Concerns Over Science and Implementation.”

The hearing comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final version of the New Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone on Oct. 1, which changed the previous standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb.

During the hearing, members questioned the panel on costs and benefits of the new standard. Witnesses included the the Hon. Jeffrey Holmstead, former assistant administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Air and Radiation; Seyed Sadredin, executive director and Air Pollution Control Officer, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; Dr. Elena Craft, senior health scientist, Environmental Defense Fund; and Dr. Michael Honeycutt, director, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Toxicology Division.

Republican members questioned the science behind the new ruling and raised concerns over the impact on American Industries. Sadredin explained that in order to reach full compliance within the given time frame, the EPA would have to ban all fossil fuel combustion. Holmstead agreed with Sadredin and said that in the more environmentally conscious states, like California, the costs of manufacturing have made it almost impossible for businesses to develop and grow.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., said, “Across the country, ozone levels and emissions for volatile organic compounds have been reduced significantly over the past few decades … despite this, it is concerning that the EPA is proposing to tighten the standard … the existing standard set in 2008 has yet to be fully implemented, and the guidance for state implementation plans was only released this past February by the EPA. States must be given a chance to comply with the existing standard before being imposed another onerous set of standards that are not achievable.”

Most Democratic members expressed support of the new rule.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said in her opening statement: “While the new rule is not as ambitious as health professionals had hoped for, it will still have real and meaningful, positive impact on the health of all Americans … Time and time again the evidence shows that, on balance, jobs are created and the economy expands following the passage of major environmental reform.”

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