EPA Ozone Regulations Out of Control

Sometime this fall, the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to finalize a new regulation addressing ground-level ozone emissions standards. The current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) will likely be reduced to 65-70 ppb. This regulation will come to fruition even though the ozone emissions have been cut in half since 1980. How does this affect the transportation industry? The EPA has the authority to withhold Federal transportation funding for highway and public transit projects, if a state or locality cannot comply with EPA’s tighter restrictions.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the regulation is projected to be the most costly regulation in EPA history, by reducing the GDP by $140 billion annually and eliminating 1.4 million jobs. Cutting off federal transportation funding is a severe penalty that has rarely been used in the past. But if EPA's proposed ozone rule is finalized as proposed, more than 550 counties nationwide are expected to violate the more stringent standard. Transportation funding penalties are likely to rise dramatically, because many of these areas will be unable to develop compliance plans that meet EPA's expectations.