After years of discussion and delay, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to finalize ozone standards in the coming weeks. It’s a rule long in the making: EPA’s decision during the Bush administration to set the standard at 75 parts per billion was challenged in court by health and environmental organizations as insufficient. At the beginning of the Obama administration, the EPA said it would reconsider the standard, but that initiative was tossed out by President Obama in the lead up to 2012 election. The move summed up the discord between the president and environmentalists in his first term. Now the EPA has proposed cutting the standard to 65-70 parts per billion, a move it says will save lives of older adults, cut asthma in children, reduce respiratory disease and reduce haze.
Those rules, however, could have huge implications on the energy sector. Ozone is created by nitrogen oxides or volatile organic compounds, and those are released in a variety of energy production — e.g., gas or oil drilling — or creation — e.g. the burning of coal to make electricity or automobiles internal combustion engines. Several lobbying groups representing those energy companies are pressuring the Obama administration to leave the ozone standard alone. Health groups are pushing back, saying the costs of any change are vastly overblown — and the change is needed.
To provide policymakers a clearer understanding of this issue, OurEnergyPolicy.org is hosting a conversation at the National Press Club on September 16th. I will moderate the panel, which will include a variety of contrasting perspectives central to the debate over the ozone rule. Please submit your questions for the panel in the comments below – the best questions will be added to the event program.
- Ross Eisenberg, Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy, National Association of Manufacturers
- Alan Krupnick, Co-Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Energy and Climate Economics, Resources for the Future
- Sarah Magruder Lyle, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
- John Walke, Director, Climate & Clean Air Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Mark Drajem, Editor, Bloomberg’s First World Energy (Moderator)