US chemical, other manufacturers call for halt on new ozone rule

19 July 2011 18:33  [Source: ICIS news]

Smokestack emissionsWASHINGTON (ICIS)--US chemical producers on Tuesday joined a broad coalition of other manufacturing and business interests in urging President Barack Obama to block new federal environmental rules that industry says pose a great threat to the nation’s economy and employment.

Top officials of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American Petroleum Institute (API), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce told a press conference that the plans by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten the national ozone standard would shut down business expansion and force still more US jobs offshore.

John Engler, former governor of Michigan and president of the Business Roundtable, said that the coalition of business and manufacturing groups opposed to the new EPA ozone rule “represents thousands of employers and job providers across the country who see this EPA ozone rule as the greatest threat to our economy and employment”.

Engler said that by EPA’s own estimates, US businesses and manufacturers would have to spend as much as $90bn (€64bn) each year to comply with the new standard.  But he also cited a study by the Manufacturers Alliance contending that the new ozone requirement would create $1,000bn in new compliance costs and eliminate 7.3m jobs over ten years.

The EPA plans to issue its final new ozone standard at the end of next week, 29 July. The agency has indicated that the new ozone limit would be between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm), compared with the existing 2008 standard of 0.075ppm.

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), state, city and other local governments are required to take action, such as ordering a production plant to install emissions scrubbers on a furnace, to ensure that ozone levels in their jurisdictions do not exceed the standard set by the EPA.

But the coalition urged Obama to intervene against the EPA, arguing that many regions of the US have yet to comply with the 2008 standard, and that emission technologies do not exist to effect the further ozone reduction. 

The only way that business and manufacturing could meet the new ozone standard, the coalition contends, would be to cut back production and even shut down or move capacity to offshore sites.

ACC president Cal Dooley said that the pending EPA rule “is a very aggressive approach that would put 90% of the US in nonattainment [noncompliance] and stifle our ability to increase production and add jobs”.

Dooley said that the new ozone rule could negate the feedstock cost advantage that US chemicals manufacturers have recently recovered due to the newly abundant supplies of shale gas by inhibiting its production or imposing prohibitive costs.

API president Jack Gerard argued that the new ozone rule would have multiplier effects on US industry by limiting and raising costs for oil and gas exploration and development, denying the nation its domestic resources, increasing energy imports and driving up costs for manufacturers and consumers.

Engler and others among the business group leaders urged Obama to honour his promise to review federal regulations that are ineffective, too costly or unnecessary.

In January this year, Obama issued an executive order requiring a government-wide review of existing and proposed regulations, saying that the rulemaking should balance health and environmental interests with economic growth and jobs creation.

Engler said the pending EPA ozone rule is in direct conflict with that Obama policy goal.

The coalition has established a website that shows what impact the new ozone rule would have at the local level across the US.

($1 = €0.71)

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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