Big Oil’s Illusions About Smog Reductions

CAP disproves claims about the economic effects of strengthened ozone protections.

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The White House is completing its interagency review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s updated ground-level ozone standard to protect public health. This will be the first improvement in the standard, which sets a protective, health-based limit to ozone levels in the air we breathe, since 1997. By law the new standard must reflect the latest science, which includes a better understanding of the impact that ozone has on the lungs and hearts of children, seniors, those suffering from respiratory ailments, and healthy adults as well.

Some of the companies required to reduce their pollution have made exaggerated claims about the alleged economic impact of these new public health protections, as with nearly every public health safeguard EPA has issued over the past 40 years. The pending ozone standard is no exception, with Big Oil leading the charge against it by claiming the new protections would wreak economic havoc. Similar claims were made when the 1997 health standards were set.

But a Center for American Progress analysis of economic data found that industries’ predictions about the economic impact of the 1997 ozone standard did not occur. This suggests that their recent, similar attacks on the pending ozone standard also lack credibility.

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