The Ozone Standards Implementation Act
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, and Minority Leaders Schumer and Pelosi:
The undersigned, which represent a diverse group of industries from across the country, write to express our strong support for H.R. 806 and S. 263, the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017.” This legislation provides a common-sense approach for implementing national ambient air quality standards, recognizes ongoing state efforts to improve air quality through a reasonable implementation schedule for the 2015 ozone standards, streamlines the air permitting process for businesses to expand operations and create jobs, and includes other reforms that bring more regulatory certainty to federal air quality standards. Additionally, the undersigned support language including certain elements of H.R. 806 and S. 263 included in the Fiscal Year 2018 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
We have significant concerns that the 2015 ozone standards overlap with existing state plans to implement the 2008 ozone standards, leading to duplicative and wasteful implementation schedules, and unnecessary and severe economic impacts. The new ozone standards were promulgated in October 2015, only months after states received their final guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how to implement the 2008 ozone standards. This delay was the result of the Obama administration’s decision to halt work on the 2008 ozone standards during a 2010-2011 reconsideration period. The EPA, however, did not account for this self-imposed delay when issuing the 2015 ozone standards, thereby imposing duplicative costs and burdens of implementing multiple standards simultaneously. This is particularly wasteful as the EPA itself projects that nearly the entire country would attain the 2015 ozone standards simply by being provided an opportunity to fully implement already-planned measures like their state implementation plans for the 2008 ozone standards. Local economies also face severe impacts, as analysis of data indicates that the 2015 ozone standards could expand nonattainment to more than 950 counties if planned reductions are not allowed time to take effect, subjecting large parts of the country to costly nonattainment control requirements.
Notwithstanding concerns expressed by thousands of elected officials, state agencies, businesses, community groups, and other stakeholders, the EPA issued the 2015 ozone standards without addressing the overlap with the 2008 ozone standards and the enormous impacts that dual implementation would have on limited state resources, permitting, and the economy. It is now upto Congress to address these issues, and that is why we support H.R. 806 and S. 263. By better aligning the 2015 ozone standards with the 2008 ozone standards and their associated emissions reductions, H.R. 806 and S. 263 will help prevent unnecessary nonattainment designations and cost burdens, without sacrificing environmental protection. The legislation’s permitting relief and other reforms are also an important step towards national ambient air quality standards that balance environmental protection and economic development. In sum, H.R. 806 and S. 263 and the related appropriations language provide a common-sense plan that maintains continued air quality improvement without unnecessarily straining state and local economic resources. We strongly encourage Congress to act quickly on this critical legislation.