Members voted to delay by eight years the implementation of a new ozone emissions rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This rule is ludicrously strict. And it would smother business growth and compromise funding for crucial infrastructure projects. The Senate should support the House's bill and pass this delay along to the President.
Back in October, the EPA announced it would lower the ceiling for ground-level ozone emissions from 75 to 70 parts per billion. Commonly called smog, ground-level ozone is generated from the chemical reactions caused by industrial facilities, electrical utilities, and fossil fuel-run automobiles. Inhaling smog can lead to severe health issues, including lung infections and airway inflammation.
But Americans can breathe easy. Between 2000 and 2013, smog levels in the United States plummeted 18 percent -- and, according to the EPA's own data, they're continuing to drop. Indeed, America is a world leader in ozone emissions reduction. Earlier this year, the American Lung Association specifically cited "progress nationwide" in reducing ozone pollution.
So this new, stricter EPA rule is unnecessary. But its enforcement would do profound damage to the economy and potentially cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Many businesses won't be able to meet this new strict standard and will be hit with heavy fines. Those new costs will, in turn, force many to cut jobs. For instance, Chicago could lose up to 35,000 jobs -- and $9 billion in growth. About 26,000 manufacturing jobs in Virginia would also be put in jeopardy.
Even the EPA can't deny the outrageous expense of compliance. By the agency's own calculations, the total annual cost of meeting this new standard will be about $1.4 billion. That's a huge price tag for a pointless policy.
American voters are rightfully skeptical. One in three are more concerned about overregulation than air pollution. And nearly 80 percent would rather leave air quality control up to local policymakers.
The public is right to question an ozone standard so strict that not even national parks can comply. That's right, this standard is so stringent that 26 of America's national parks are noncompliant. The Grand Canyon itself is just barely grand enough for the EPA, coming in just 1 ppb under the new cap.
This rule tightening could also hurt public infrastructure. More than 240 counties nationwide exceed the new level. Once it's implemented, the EPA will have the power to punish noncompliant counties by, among other things, suspending federal funding for transportation projects.
Major municipalities that are already struggling to maintain their infrastructure could get hit with huge cuts to public financing. The Dallas-Fort Worth area, for instance, is non-compliant, but it also needs about $95 billion to deal with its severe congestion issues. New cuts would make its infrastructure problems even worse.
Allowing this ludicrously strict new standard to go into effect would crush businesses and spur traffic jams all across the country. The Senate and the President need to realize that Americans aren't getting sick from polluted air, they're getting sick of bending over backwards to meet excessive government regulations. This standard should be delayed -- and then, eventually, scrapped entirely.
David Williams is the president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.