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News Bits

Proposed EPA Air Regulations Have Major Impacts on Bayou Region, Nation
By: Jane Arnette, SCIA Executive Director

Since 2010, the EPA has been working to lower the standards for ground level ozone, a regulation which would kill jobs, industry, and make it far more difficult for us to generate electricity, manufacture our own goods, travel in our own cars and trucks, and extract oil and gas in much of the United States.

The current standard for ground-level ozone is 75 parts per billion, (ppb) and if you wanted to know what one part per billion looks like - it is equivalent to 1 drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Here in the Bayou Region, our ozone emissions levels have a three year average of 71 ppb, which are in compliance with the existing standards. However, the EPA is currently proposing to lower the standards to somewhere between 70 and 65 ppb, and are even accepting public comments on dropping the levels as low as 60 ppb.

The threat to industry and transportation in the Bayou Region should we fall in to non-attainment is real and significant. Businesses would be required to install expensive scrubbers, or be forced to suspend operations during significant parts of the day for much of the year. Major transportation infrastructure projects would be subject to additional studies before being allowed to receive Federal funding, and every day commuters and drivers would potentially be required to use more expensive lower emissions fuels or emission reduction devices in their vehicles.

SCIA is deeply concerned about the EPA's proposed changes to the ozone regulations, as this unfunded mandate will place much of the country out of compliance, forcing hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance costs annually and/or forcing industries to shut down facilities across the country.

Locally, in the Bayou Region, we have signed on to the EPA's Advance program for ozone compliance, and most importantly, our ozone levels have been decreasing even in the midst of an unprecedented oil and gas services boom in our region. Not only does this demonstrate the Bayou Region's commitment to lower emissions voluntarily, but it also calls in to question the modelling EPA relies on which would squarely blame oil and gas support industries (particularly marine vessels and associated vessel and truck traffic) for increasing emissions.

In order to help deal with these potentially game-changing impacts to our region's economy, SCIA has been working with La DEQ and other regional groups on a cohesive effort to object to these proposed changes, including generating letters of support, resolutions from government, and coalition letters from national and statewide industry associations.

The materials this SCIA working group have produced are available for your information and use to help you determine how you will help in the fight to either suspend this proposed rules change, or to help craft legislative solutions which will minimize the impacts on our region.

EPA is accepting public comments until March 17, 2015, you can find more information on how to submit your comments, as well as a template letter and some talking points by clicking here