A number of agriculture interest groups are among 269 organizations that asked President Barack Obama Wednesday to stop the release of more stringent national ambient air quality standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, set for release sometime this year.
Of particular concern to agriculture is for farmers and ranchers who already operate in regions of the country that struggle to meet NAAQ standards for ozone. Many of those producers have had to work to reduce dust pollution on the farm as part of plans in place in what are called non-attainment areas. EPA's proposal is to reduce the ozone standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 65 ppb. The new standard would likely expand the number of regions in non-attainment, requiring many farmers and ranchers to take additional dust-reduction steps.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, Corn Refiners Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Fertilizer Institute, and the Western Agricultural Processors Association, joined the hundreds of groups asking the president to delay the rule set to be sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
"Just a few years ago, you ordered the EPA to abandon a similar rule, citing the need to reduce regulatory burdens in a recovering economy," the letter said. "The undersigned organizations request that you do so again. Efforts to reduce ozone are an environmental success story. Ozone levels have improved by 33% since 1980 and will improve even more in coming years. Businesses, governments and individuals have all played critical roles in these achievements. Market-driven innovations and dozens of existing policies to improve fuel economy, increase energy efficiency, and reduce emissions from stationary and mobile sources will drive further air quality improvements over the next decade, and beyond.
"We are committed to ensuring a clean and safe environment now and in the future. However, we also stand to bear the brunt of the economic pain from a regulation that will make it difficult to manufacture products, build new projects, produce energy, improve infrastructure and hire the workers needed to make this all happen."
The groups said they are concerned the stricture ozone standard could "close off communities across the nation to new jobs and economic growth, requiring reductions to near background levels in many places."
One of the issues the groups raise is that available emissions technologies may not be suitable to achieve the even stricter standards. Further, the EPA proposal comes at a time when many stakeholders already are struggling to meet the current 75 ppb standard.
"We are bound by the limits of technological feasibility, and this regulation mandates controls that even the EPA admits are unknown," the letter said. "When regulations push beyond the achievable, we lose the ability to innovate, create jobs, and unlock the next generation of technologies. The need for balanced government policies and reasonable flexibilities has never been greater, and no single regulation threatens to disrupt this balance more than EPA's ozone rule."
They call on the administration to leave the current standard in place, to allow stakeholders to first meet that requirement.
Read the letter here, http://tinyurl.com/…
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