Obama administration sets stricter smog standard
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is announcing steps to cut levels of smog-forming pollution linked to asthma, lung damage and other health problems.
The Environmental Protection Agency is calling for a new, lower threshold for ozone pollution of 65 to 70 parts per billion. That's down from the current standard of 75 parts per billion, put in place by President George W. Bush in 2008.
But the EPA is leaving open the possibility it could enact an even lower standard of 60 parts per billion sought by environmental groups.
The EPA estimates that meeting the stricter rules will cost industry about $3.9 billion in 2025 if the government goes with a standard of 70 parts per billion. At a level of 65 parts per billion, the EPA said, the cost grows to $15 billion.
Industry groups say the cost would actually be far higher and that it would be nearly impossible for refineries and other businesses to comply. But EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says lower ozone standards would actually spur more businesses, investment and jobs by making communities healthier.
The EPA was under a court-ordered Dec. 1 deadline to issue a new smog standard.