A manufacturing group is urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would delay the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's smog standards.
The National Association of Manufacturers wrote to lawmakers Tuesday urging passage of the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016. Introduced by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, the bill would slow the EPA's implementation of new ozone standards, which were tightened to 70 parts per billion last year from the previous 75 parts per billion.
In the letter, Aric Newhouse, the group's senior vice president for policy and government relations, wrote that the new rule is out of touch with current industrial practices and needs to be slowed.
"While modern manufacturing has evolved into a technology-driven industry, many of our environmental policies, such as the ozone rule, have failed to keep pace," Newhouse wrote.
"EPA's new rule will cost the economy billions of dollars each year and … [sets] targets that are unreachable in parts of the country due to a lack of flexibility within the regulation and high levels of background or naturally occurring ozone."
The Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016 would delay the implementation of the EPA's new ozone standards by allowing communities to not be labeled as non-compliant until 2025. It also would change the Clean Air Act by requiring the agency to review ozone standards every 10 years instead of every five years.
The stricter standards angered industry groups, who think they are too strict, and environmentalists, who believe they don't go far enough. Environmentalists want the standard dropped to 65 or 60 parts per billion.
However, critics of the standards point out that some wilderness areas, such as Yosemite National Park, do not meet the new standard. They say it's tough for wilderness areas to reduce their ozone amounts simply because there's no way to reduce pollution.
Ozone is the primary component of smog and can cause respiratory illnesses in children and the elderly, such as making the symptoms of asthma worse. The EPA estimates most parts of the country should meet that standard by 2025 without changing any of their current practices.
However, Newhouse wrote to lawmakers that the bill would keep many industrial companies from branching out with new investments.
"This will mean additional barriers to new investments, manufacturing competitiveness and job growth," he wrote. "Manufacturers need Congress to restore flexibility and reasonableness to this regulatory program."
The House Rules Committee is set to take up the bill Tuesday evening and a vote could come later this week.