Data shows the original ozone rules are working as intended, without harming the business environment.
The Trump administration is exploring the possibility of punching a hole in former President Obama’s 2015 ozone pollution rule.
Justice Department attorneys are asking the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to delay oral arguments scheduled for later this month in a lawsuit challenging the Obama rule, while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviews the regulation and its position on it.
“EPA intends to closely review the 2015 rule, and the prior positions taken by the agency with respect to the 2015 rule may not necessarily reflect its ultimate conclusions after that review is complete,” the attorneys wrote.
Under the Obama administration, attorneys were defending the pollution rule against a coalition of business groups and conservative states, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The regulation lowered the allowable concentration of ozone to 70 parts per billion, from the previous 75. Ozone is a byproduct of pollutants from burning fossil fuels and a component in smog. It is linked to respiratory ailments like asthma attacks.
Ground ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight, and is a component of smog that can cause respiratory problems if inhaled. Therefore, the usual suspects are responding with the usual alarmist statements about this potential reversal.
“Smog is dangerous to kids, seniors and asthmatics,” said Seth Johnson, an attorney with environmental advocacy group Earthjustice, in a statement. “The Trump administration is taking the first step toward tearing down a crucial protection against dirty air.”
Being in the environmental health and safety business, I am aware that application of our original pollution production regulations has produced significant improvement in air quality across the country. I was curious to see if the level of ground ozone has been declining prior to the dickering around by the eco-activists in Obama’s EPA.
The answer is a resounding YES, as charts for ozone levels in cities across this country look similar to that produced for New Jersey:
As a delightful, extra example of Obama era ineptitude, late last year, an EPA report was revealed that indicated ozone measurements may be way off, and that cities deemed out of compliance may have actually met the regulatory standards.
Accurate ozone measurements are required by the Clean Air Act, for public health, many jobs and billions of dollars are at stake. Yet since 1999 the EPA has failed to acknowledge erroneous ozone measurements biased upward by mercury vapor and other interferences.
Measurement error may apply to a supposed ozone spike in San Antonio on October 3, 2016, for on that day much of Texas was blanketed by smog and mercury vapor from coal-burning power plants. San Antonio may now be subject to EPA sanctions for a violation it may not have committed.
While the EPA has long known that ozone measurements are significantly biased upward by mercury vapor, the agency has required States to use ultraviolet ozone monitors subject to mercury interference.
Based on this alone, it is very reasonable that Trump’s EPA is reviewing the realities of ozone pollution.
But there’s event more!
The atmospheric ozone hole that protects the planet from solar ultraviolet radiation and was the cause of freon-banning has shrunk considerably in the past 2 decades.
In the period from 2000-2015, the hole in the ozone layer shrank by more than 4 million square kilometers—nearly a billion acres—according to a new report in the journal Science.
During the 1980s and into the 1990s, news of a massive hole in the ozone layer caused worldwide panic, stoked by everything from rumors of sheep being blinded by increased atmospheric radiation to the fear of a skin cancer pandemic and even comparisons to “AIDS from the sky.”
Now scientists at MIT along with others have found that since 2000 the ozone hole has actually shrunk by an area half the size of the contiguous United States, although the process is also heavily affected by variables such as volcanic eruptions from year to year.
Given the fact that current regulations are working for both ground and atmospheric levels in exactly the way they were originally intended, the Trump administration’s move sensibly protects the environment and saves the American economy from fiscal harm caused by the Obama team.