Ozone, Mo’Zone and NoZone

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Killing our economy, jobs and welfare – for phony health and environmental reasons

The Environmental Protection Agency’s war on economic growth, jobs, poor families, modern living standards, and people’s health and welfare is about to get a lot more damaging..

The Clean Air Act says EPA must set standards for ozone and other pollutants – and periodically review existing standards, to determine whether they are adequately protecting public health, or need to be tightened further. In 1997, the agency reduced the permissible ambient ozone level to 84 parts per billion (equivalent to 8.4 cents out of $1,000,000). In 2008, it lowered the standard again, to 75 ppb.

However, due to public outcry and because EPA’s own clean air science advisory committee said the reduction wasn’t necessary, in 2009 the agency suspended the 75 ppb rule’s implementation, pending “further study.” Shortly thereafter, though, Lisa Jackson’s EPA decided to slash allowable ozone levels to 60 ppb – without doing any further analysis. Sensing how politically volatile the issue could become, President Obama told EPA to postpone the hyper-restrictive rule until after the 2012 elections.

Meanwhile, state and industry lawsuits challenged even the 75 ppb level as unnecessary and harmful, and self-proclaimed “public health advocates” (hardcore environmentalist groups) sued for immediate implementation, claiming ozone’s role in smog means 60 ppb levels are needed now. However, no recent study has shown negative (much less toxic) effects on people, even at levels far higher than in America’s ambient air; even people engaged in vigorous exercise displayed only minor transient effects.

Right now, according to the Business Roundtable, only 66 out of 736 monitored US counties do not meet the 75 ppb ozone standard. (Virtually all counties meet the 84 ppb standard.) The Obama EPA’s 60 ppb rule would put 96% of those counties – 707 of 736out of compliance, according to EPA! Other analysts say the new standard would turn “only” 85-88% of the counties into non-attainment areas. Maps depicting the 60 ppb rule’s impact show massive swaths of the United States blasted into noncompliance.

This insanity is underscored by the fact that even parts of Yellowstone Park would be out of compliance, if the 60 ppb rule is imposed. That’s because the volatile organic compounds that are precursors to ozone don’t come just from fuels, plastics and other hydrocarbons. They also come from volcanoes, hot springs and trees: deciduous trees emit VOCs on hot, sunny days; conifers emit them day and night.

The regulatory derangement is further accentuated by its outrageous cost. EPA itself says the 60 ppb rule will carry a $52–90 billion annual price tag. The Manufacturers Alliance (MAPI) says the actual cost could be $1 trillion per year! Even worse, that is on top of the current cost of $353 billion per year to comply just with EPA rules – and the $1.8 trillion annual cost for US businesses and families to comply with all federal regulations – according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

EPA’s new ozone standards will send America into a regulatory Mo’Zone, NoZone and Twilight Zone.

EPA’s Mo’Zone will impose still mo’ government, mo’ rules, mo’ intrusions in our lives, more obstacles to economic development, job creation, and modern health and living standards. EPA rules are already killing off coal-fired power plants, affordable electricity, and coal-mining jobs and communities, based on questionable to fraudulent claims about mercury and particulates. Its imminent CO2/global warming regime will put EPA in charge of everything Americans make, ship, drive, eat and do.

The EPA NoZone means no economic growth, no employment opportunities, no civil rights progress, no concern about our lives, livelihoods, or real health and welfare. These ozone rules will not be issued in a vacuum. Over 40 million Americans are still unemployed, under-employed or have given up on finding a job. Over 47 million are on food stamps. Then there’s Obamacare, Dodd-Frank … and federal agencies primed to impose 4,000 more new regulations – on top of the 81,883 rules they have issued over the past two decades! EPA’s ozone rules would perpetuate this disaster and our abysmal 1.8% economic growth.

EPA’s Twilight Zone is not just bizarre. It’s criminal. America’s air quality has improved dramatically since 1970, and continues to get even better as technologies and fuel efficiencies advance. But instead of recognizing this, EPA (and the pressure groups it pays to promote scary pollution fantasies) constantly demand more costly and restrictive regulations. The rules do not just provide few or no actual benefits; by imposing needless costs and killing jobs, they actually harm human health and welfare, and kill people.

Anemic growth and declining economic status mean millions of families cannot heat and cool their homes properly, pay their rent, mortgage or other bills, take vacations, or save for retirement. The stress of being unemployed – or holding several low-paying part-time jobs – means sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, more commuting, higher incidences of depression and alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse, lower life expectancies and higher suicide rates. EPA ignores all of this, making its regulatory “benefits” fraudulent.

Its claims that economy-crushing ozone rules will prevent asthma and “save the children” are equally deceitful. US asthma rates have been rising, even as pollution levels are declining. By EPA “logic,” we should increase pollution to decrease asthma rates. In reality, asthma is an allergic disease; air pollution can aggravate asthma to some degree, but doesn’t cause it, and hospital data show no correlation between pollution levels and asthma admissions. The reasons more kids have asthma attacks, toxicologists explain, is that they live in tightly insulated homes, spend less time outdoors in the dirt, and don’t get exposed to enough allergens during their early years to reduce immune hyperactivity and allergic hypersensitivity.

An honest, socially responsible EPA or American Lung Association would clarify all this. But EPA has an agenda – and it pays the ALA (and other activist groups) millions of dollars annually to help it frighten people about “worsening” air quality and “dangerous” pollution levels, to advance that agenda.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that EPA gave these organizations $3.8 billion between 2000 and 2010. The ALA alone received over $20 million – which it used to conduct opinion polls carefully devised to support agency regulations on soot from power plants; produce sleazy TV attack ads that equate challenges to its runaway regulatory regime to killing babies; and buy billboard space accusing legislators of hurting children for trying to prevent EPA from regulating carbon dioxide until Congress explicitly authorizes it to do so. EPA has also given millions in taxpayer money to student activist groups and “environmental justice” organizations, to vilify and stifle any criticism of its programs, assertions, methodologies, or damage to people’s health and welfare.

In one particularly outrageous example, EPA gave millions of dollars to researchers who intentionally and illegally exposed thousands of people to air pollutants, including soot from diesel exhaust – at high levels that EPA itself insists (but did not tell its experimental subjects) are dangerous and even deadly. EPA is using the studies to bolster its bogus claim that we need even stricter limits for these pollutants. Almost as incredible, even though these “lethal” pollution levels did not sicken test subjects, the agency still demands emission levels at a tiny percentage of what the test subjects were exposed to.

Either EPA is guilty of attempted manslaughter for exposing people to lethal doses – or it is lying to Congress and the American people, and trying to impose more job-killing rules that have no medical or scientific basis. In fact, it claims 65% of the phony “benefits” from its 60 ppb ozone rules will come from “incidental reductions” in the “fine particulate matter” (soot) that its test subjects were illegally exposed to.

This secretive, tyrannical, abusive, ideologically driven rogue agency’s budget needs to be trimmed, as several congressmen have proposed. That would help force EPA to focus on real environmental problems, as required by law and honest science. EPA should not be allowed to fund illegal experiments, hire surrogates to scare and propagandize us, or impose excessive, fraudulent rules that kill jobs and harm human health and welfare. Nor should it be allowed to waste our money on useless, unethical programs.

It’s high time for our Congress, courts and state legislatures to exercise some responsible adult supervision.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author or Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

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About Author

PAUL DRIESSEN is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), public policy institutes that promote environmental stewardship, the enhancement of human health and welfare, and personal liberties and civil rights. He writes and speaks frequently on the environment, energy and economic development, malaria eradication, climate change, human rights, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. His articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines and on news and opinion websites in the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Peru, Venezuela, South Africa, Uganda, Bangladesh and many other countries. Driessen’s book, Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death, documents the harm that restrictive environmental policies often have on poor people, especially in developing countries, by restricting their access to life-enhancing modern technologies. It is in its second US printing and has also been published in Argentina (Spanish), India (English), Germany (German) and Italy (Italian). He was editor for Energy Keepers - Energy Killers: The new civil rights battle, by CORE national chairman Roy Innis; Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to fight and survive attack group shakedowns, by Nick Nichols; and Creatures, Corals and Colors in North American Seas, by Ann Scarborough-Bull. His report, Responsible Progress in the Andes, examined ways that modern mining operations can bring jobs, infrastructure, and improved safety and pollution control practices to poor communities. Driessen’s studies and analyses have also appeared in Conserving the Environment (Doug Dupler, editor), Resurgent Diseases (Karen Miller, Editor) and Malnutrition (Margaret Haerens, editor), all part of the Thomson-Gale “Opposing Viewpoints” Series that is used in many high schools and colleges; Redefining Sovereignty: Will liberal democracies continue to determine their own laws and public policies, or yield these rights to transnational entities in search of universal order and justice? (Orin Judd, editor); and other publications. He played a lead role in the “Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now” campaign, an international effort that restored the use of DDT to African and other malaria control programs, and served as an advisor to the film “3 Billion and Counting,” examining how environmentalist and EPA campaign against DDT had devastating impacts on families in poor developing countries. Paul received his BA in geology and field ecology from Lawrence University and a JD from the University of Denver College of Law, before embarking on a career that also included tenures with the United States Senate, U.S. Department of the Interior and an energy trade association. He has produced documentary films about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, immigration through Ellis Island, and marine habitats beneath offshore oil production platforms. Driessen is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and college campuses, and at business and public policy forums. He participates in energy, health and environmental conferences, and was active in the Public Relations Society of America, where he served as Washington, DC chapter newsletter editor and in the Social Responsibility Section.

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