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Federal Ozone Regulations Continue to Prove Costly for Manufacturers

While North Carolina’s leaders were taking the next smart steps to modernize our state’s regulatory climate last week by securing yet another balanced regulatory reform bill (House Bill 765), national leaders were busy finalizing an ozone emission proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency that will threaten manufacturers’ ability to grow jobs across the U.S. The new rule lowers the national ozone standard to 70 ppb (parts per billion), a move that will worsen compliance burdens and raise regulatory costs for domestic businesses.

North Carolina is among the states whose air quality levels are expected to remain in compliance when the new standards take effect. “We expect to comply with the new standard statewide when the EPA makes its final attainment designations in 2017 because air quality has been improving steadily across the state over the past 15 years,” stated NC Division of Air Quality (DAQ) Director Sheila Holman in a recent press release. The state’s projected compliance is due largely to the fact that North Carolina manufacturers and the overall business community already paid the front-end costs when they rose to the challenge to successfully reduce emissions from coal-fired facilities and other sources after the General Assembly adopted the Clean Smokestacks Act in 2002.

However, simply because North Carolina has already paid many of the costs of compliance does not change the fact that this new rule is yet another case of out-of-control regulatory overreach by the federal government. Between 1980 and 2013, national ozone levels were reduced by 33 percent while ozone-forming emissions dropped 50 percent; with this burdensome new standard, the EPA is unfairly penalizing manufacturers that have worked to boost domestic air quality in recent decades and sending a clear message to the business community that predictability and certainty are principles we should not expect to see while the agency continues to expand its policy-making role to unconstitutional levels.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are among the many pro-growth groups urging Congress to stand against the EPA’s costly new ozone standard. The NC Chamber remains committed to modernizing regulations at the state level, and we hope leaders in Congress will take North Carolina’s lead in striving for a balanced regulatory climate to grow domestic jobs at the pace of our globalized economy. We will keep you updated on issues involving federal overreach that undermine the regulatory progress we continue to make at the state level.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber