President Obama has unveiled a series of new regulations for the EPA aimed at cutting levels of smog, especially the types of pollution which have been linked to inducing lung damage, asthma, and other health problems in humans.
The new regulations would mostly affect the power plants and factories in the Midwest which contribute large amounts of air pollution.
Currently, the EPA allows up to 75 parts per billion of air pollution to be emitted, a standard set by former President George Bush in 2008. The EPA’s scientists have said, according to the Press Telegram, they would prefer a lower standard of air pollution of 60 parts per billion. New regulations are thought to put the pollution emitted between 65 and 70 parts per billion however.
The new rules, which would not go into affect until after 2020, are estimated to cost the EPA about $3.9 billion to meet the 70 parts per billion level, but the cost is estimated to jump to $15 billion in order for companies to meet the lower level of 65 parts per billion.
The administration says the cost is worth the health benefits which would include, according to Politico, fewer deaths and hospitalizations as well as fewer missed days of school and work because of issues related to asthma and bronchitis.
Paul Billings, a senior vice president of the American Lung Association said, according to the New York Times, “Ozone is the most pervasive and widespread pollutant in the country… Ozone is not killing people, but causing tens of millions of people to get sick every day.
While environmentalists and health advocates have lauded these new regulations, some Republicans, as well as fossil fuel industry promoters, have criticized this plan, calling it another instance of government overreach.
The director of regulatory affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, Howard Feldman, said, “Air quality has improved dramatically over the past decades, and air quality will continue to improve under the existing standards.” It is important to note though the American Petroleum Institute is an oil industry lobby group which spent $78 million to support the oil industry.
Harold Wimmer, the president of the American Lung Association said 60 parts per billion would be the most beneficial to the health of citizens, and he called these new regulations “long overdue.”
The proposed regulations can be found here.