An association representing some of the world’s largest energy producers released a study Thursday claiming a possible new ozone regulation could be costly for Arkansans. The finding is disputed by leading environmental groups in the state.
The National Association of Manufacturers claims the state could lose up to 10,000 jobs and have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with a possible new Environmental Protection Agency ozone regulation aimed at reducing emissions from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 60 ppb.
The report was compiled by a consulting company hired by the association. NAM represents 12,000 members including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Koch Industries.
Ross Eisenberg, a vice-president with NAM, said current emission standards are already low enough and that the association is focusing on the economic impact and not why the EPA concludes lower emissions are desirable.
“We’re at a point where levels are getting pretty low. We’ve done a good job over the years of reducing ozone. They are being stricter for strictness sake. I’m not a scientist, we don’t really engage on that part of it. But within the state itself manufacturing’s really hit the hardest with over $100 million of impact,” said Eisenberg.
Glen Hooks with the Sierra Club said the association should not dismiss the EPA’s reasoning.
“When you look at regulation on ozone or on mercury or on anything else it is science based. I don’t think there’s any possible reason to say that EPA is only being strict for the sake of being strict. They are charged with protecting our environment and they are charged with protecting our public health. There are scientifically valid reasons to have lower ozone standards,” said Hooks.
Hooks also said industry concerns in the report about a negative economic impact are overstated.
“The reality is that the industry no matter what environmental regulation comes down the pike they always say that the sky is going to fall. They always say it’s going to cost jobs, they always say it’s going to cost enormous amounts of money economically and it never pans out. Good health and a good environment means that our people are going to be stronger and healthier and the bottom line for companies and all of our families are going to better. I don’t care whether it’s carbon regulations or mercury regulations you’ll see the same thing from industry over and over again. They’re putting profits in front of people and we’re just not going to stand for that,” said Hooks.
The National Association of Manufacturers argues companies will have no choice but to raise prices and lay off workers to maintain their business models.
The Environmental Protection Agency sent the following to KUAR in response to NAM's release:
EPA has not reviewed the NAM study. The agency has not yet proposed a rule as and is still reviewing the available technical information. Any economic analysis on a new standard would be premature at this point and not based actual agency actions. History has proven time and time again we can reduce pollution—and grow the economy at the same time. Over the past 40+ years, we've cut air pollution by more than 70 percent and in the same time GDP has tripled. EPA is on track to issue a proposal this December, which will be available for public comment and input.