The House Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., recently hosted a roundtable discussion July 28 to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to revise the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground level ozone.
The EPA’s 2008 standards have not been fully implemented by states. The proposed rule could have a devastating effect on jobs and manufacturing, points that were reinforced by manufacturing witnesses during last month’s joint Energy and Power and Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade hearing.
Deer Park, Texas, is a community of 33,000 located about 18 miles southwest of Houston. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 20,000 of Deer Park’s residents work for the city’s top 10 employers, many of which are in the manufacturing industry including Shell Deer Park, Lubrizol Specialty Chemicals and Dow Chemical Co.
Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton, Jr., who testified at the roundtable discussion, told EP News Wire, “we’re on the verge of meeting the 2008 attainment standards, but my question is when you’re not in attainment how do you come into compliance?”
Mouton testified the proposed standards are so strict that none of Deer Park’s industries could come into compliance. “If our local plants cannot meet the standards, it might not be cost effective enough for them to fix it, and then what are they going to do? They’re going to pack up and leave and then we’ll be buying the same products from someone else, we’ll have to import them from out of the United States built at lower standards.”
Deer Park and the surrounding areas’ air quality is among the cleanest, most watched, and most regulated in the world, Mouton added.
“The top of my list of concerns is this would penalize our economic base. I feel as if we’re being picked on, that we’re the gorilla in the room everyone wants to slap around,” he said.
Whitfield said the EPA is pushing too far and too fast with the proposed rule and consumers, manufacturers and small businesses across the country bear the brunt of the compliance burdens.
“The National Association of Manufacturers estimates that the proposed rule could cost $140 billion annually and cost my home state of Kentucky $347 million in total compliance costs," Whitfield said in a written statement.
Mouton added,“This is going to hurt our industry if this happens, it’s going to hurt our community. I live here too, for 31 years, I do want clean air. It’s disheartening.”