Ozone Regulations Essay Research Paper In 1997

Ozone Regulations Essay, Research Paper

In 1997 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established new ozone

standards. The EPA also placed special restrictions on twenty-two states in the

Ohio Valley and Midwest regions to prevent emissions from coal-burning power

plants from being carried into the New England States by wind currents.

(Tennessee is one of these twenty-two states.) Both of these rulings were

recently either struck down or placed on hold by Federal Appeals Courts. Why:

The regulations put into place in 1997 by the EPA were more restrictive than the

1990 standards. The regulations limit the amount of ground level ozone and fine

particle pollution permitted. Ground level ozone is produced by nitrogen

oxide(NOx) which is created by burning fossil fuels. Since gasoline and diesel

are both fossil fuels, then NOx is a major component of automobile emissions.

Several members of the trucking and fossil fuel industries, as well as members

of the twenty-two state region, have challenged the regulations in Federal Court

and have been successful in blocking the implementation of the new rules. In the

past two months, two separate Federal Court Of Appeals panels have ruled that

the EPA?s authority to establish clean air standards is not properly delegated

by Congress under the Clean Air Act. Therefore, since the EPA is a part of the

Executive branch of government and not the Legislative, they have no authority

to produce regulations on their own. The plaintiffs in the case also argued that

the amount of pollution a person can tolerate has not been established and until

it is the EPA should not make the current regulations more restrictive. How: The

main actors in this event are the American Trucking Associations and their

fellow plaintiffs, the twenty-two state coalition, the EPA, and the Federal

Appeals Court. Why would the American Trucking Associations and other fossil

fuel burning industries want to limit the EPA?s authority? What do they have

to gain? Last year, according to the EPA?s own press release detailing their

enforcement efforts in fiscal year 1998, the EPA referred 266 criminal cases to

the Department of Justice, as well as 411 civil court cases. Approximately half

of the civil cases required violators to change the way they manage their

facilities or to reduce their emissions or discharges. The EPA also assessed

almost $93 million dollars in criminal fines and another $92 million in civil

penalties. In addition to fines and penalties, polluters spent over $2 billion

dollars to correct violations. Not included in this estimate would be the legal

expenses incurred or the advertising and marketing costs required to mend a

damaged pubic relations image. Clearly it is in the industries? best financial

interest if the regulations are less restrictive. Many companies that spent

large amounts of money to meet the 1990 Clean Air Act standards would have to

spend even more to meet the amended 1997 standards. Do the states in the

twenty-two state region have another reason to argue against the standards?

According to Sean Cavanagh?s article in the April 4, 1999 edition of the

Chattanooga Times/Free Press, Atlanta lost $700 million in federal roads money

as a result of failing to come up with a pollution containment plan. In

addition, the state of Georgia had to fund a state ?superagency? to develop

and enforce transit plans that meet federal standards. The states joined the

industrial groups in claiming that the new standards are too strict and are

unnecessary. Chattanooga is not expected to meet the new requirements by the

year 2000 deadline and Chattanooga Mayor Kensey and Tennessee Governor Sundquist

were two of the public officials who protested the new standards as being too

strict. Are the new standards too strict? How does the EPA determine the

required levels? According to the press release issued by the EPA following the

court?s decision, the Federal Courts are not questioning ?the science and

process conducted by the EPA justifying the setting of new, more protective

standards.? The EPA claims that their standards, which are designed to limit

the affects that smog and soot have on people with respiratory problems, protect

125 million Americans including 35 million children. The Federal Courts only

have issue with the constitutionality of certain parts of the Clean Air Act that

allow the EPA to establish clean air regulations in the interest of public

health. The EPA is recommending that the Department of Justice appeal the ruling

to the US Supreme Court. Several interest groups are closely watching the case.

The powerful industrial and truckers lobby groups are supporting the plaintiffs,

while several environmental lobby groups and health associations, such as the

American Lung Association, are supporting the EPA?s efforts. All interest

groups have apparently been relatively quiet so far since the issue is a court

case and most are probably afraid of being accused of trying to influence the

courts decision. If the issue gets a new life in Congress then obviously the

lobbyist will be more active. Opinion: Who gets what, when and how. The EPA is

trying to establish new clean air requirements to take effect in the year 2000

by using the public health clause of the Clean Air Act. The plaintiffs are

trying to avoid having to spend more money to meet the requirements by 2000 by

arguing that the public health clause is unconstitutional. What is the federal

government?s stand on the issue. White House press secretary Joe Lockhart

claimed that they are ?deeply disappointed? by the courts decision.

Considering that the liberals are generally supportive of environmental issues

this is not surprising, but what about the conservatives? Republicans are

usually more protective of business interest. More strict laws on environmental

issues will cause fewer new companies to start-up. This would of course have an

adverse affect on the economy. It should be noted that the two judges who voted

on the side of the plaintiffs in both of these case were Reagan appointees and

therefore probably conservatives. Is it fair for the EPA to impose new strict

standards only seven years after instituting sweeping changes in clean air

regulations? Many companies are probably still paying for the new programs they

implented to help meet the previous standards. Fair or not these standards are

probably necessary. Ground level ozone contributes significantly to smog. Smog,

according to an editorial by the Chattanooga Times? Harry Austin on May 20,

1999,in turn affects not only our health, but also crop and forest loss, acid

rain and fog production, and increases regional haze. If there are so many

important benefits to reducing ground level ozone then why is the public so

silent on the matter? Probably for two reasons. First, confusion with

atmospheric ozone. The ozone surrounding the Earth blocks out radiation from the

sun. Ground level ozone traps in fine particles. The hole in the Earth?s ozone

layer makes the evening news. Smog also makes the evening news, but very little

is ever said about the contribution made to it by ground level ozone. Many

Americans probably just consider more ozone a good thing, but it?s not if

it?s not in the right place. Secondly, in an article written by Jeff Dean for

the Associated Press a survey was cited that stated that Americans are

discouraged by the Earth?s environmental problems and are beginning to feel

there is nothing that can be done, therefore why even worry about it. The EPA is

trying to do something about our problems and is meeting with resistance from

industrial and transportation groups. If the Supreme Court does not overturn the

lower court?s ruling and reinstate the new regulations then millions of

Americans will continue to suffer the effects of smog. If the court rules the

regulations void because they are not properly delegated by Congress then the

floodgates will open on lawsuits against numerous such regulations. If an

already unproductive Congress is forced to create all of their own regulations

then the country will come to a stand still. If, however, these regulations are

created at random without proper Congressional supervision then a main portion

of our system of checks and balances will be voided. A compromise must me




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