ENVIRONMENT -- January 7, 2010 at 1:24 PM ET
EPA Proposes Stricter Smog Limits
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed stricter new limits on smog Thursday that could have big health benefits, but could also cost up to $90 billion for corporations and the government to implement.
The proposal would limit smog to a level of no more than 0.06 to 0.07 parts per million, putting in place the range recommend by the EPA's scientific advisory scientists in 2008, but rejected by the Bush administration. At that time, the limit was set at 0.075 parts per million, down from 0.084 ppm previously.
Among the health risks of smog the agency referenced are aggravation of asthma and severity of heart or lung disease.
"Smog in the air we breathe poses a very serious health threat, especially to children and individuals suffering from asthma and lung disease. It dirties our air, clouds our cities and drives up our health care costs across the country," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in the statement.
The new limitations are predicted to cut healthcare and lost work costs by between $14 billion and $100 billion, because of health gains, the EPA estimated, and would cost between $19 billion and $90 billion to implement. The cost would largely be taken on by manufacturers, oil refiners and utilities, reported the New York Times.
The Associated Press reported the new range would likely put hundreds of counties nationwide in violation, forcing them to find ways to cut down on pollution or face government sanctions, such as loss of tax dollars.
The American Lung Association came out strongly in support of the move. "EPA owes this protection to the millions who live where ozone smog sends children to the emergency room and shortens the lives of people with chronic lung disease," ALA President Charles Connor said in a statement.
But representatives of the oil and gas industry opposing the change told MSNBC the new limits would be an "obvious politicization of the air quality standard setting process that could mean unnecessary energy cost increases, job losses and less domestic oil and natural gas development and energy security."