The Smog of War: Federal Environmental Rule Coming to Your State

Submitted by jason van orsdol on Tue, 01/19/2010 - 10:55.










In an ongoing effort to expand Federal powers and control of States, Lisa Jackson, the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), related the agency wishes to impose the strictest EPA pollution regulations to date. Jackson related the "EPA is stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face”. Specifically, the pollutant Administrator Jackson is speaking of is smog. 

Smog is scientifically described as ground-level ozone, enhancing Green House Gas (GHG) affects, produced from the burning of fossil fuels and use of industrial chemicals. Mix emissions from fossil fuels and industrial chemicals with sunlight and ozone and you have smog. For a standing example, visit Los Angeles and see the air, so to speak. Los Angeles is infamous for smog hazing over the city skyline and it is not pretty. Jackson further commented on the effects of smog, relating that Americans’ health issues will be reduced by the EPA "Using the best science to strengthen these standards”. As usual, the EPA is an agency now concerned with defining the best health and environmental policy for States and citizens from an expanded regulatory position.

While the continuous political ‘war’ for States’ Rights proceeds in relation to environmental management, the EPA is employing tactics designed to override State powers to self-govern environmental regulations and the health of citizens as written under State law. Never mind legal precedent set in Massachusetts v. EPA, where the U.S. Supreme Court found that the EPA does not have authority to regulate GHGs, which directly relate to smog. Smog has been scientifically linked to health issues by mainstream medical research many times over; this is not disputed. Respiratory illnesses such as asthma attacks and respiratory irritation are standing examples of smog related health impacts. The EPA is claiming that states with smog issues under current standards are to be deemed as having ineffective government controls requiring Federal intervention to keep citizens healthy and to further protect the environment from smog. This action, coupled with the crisis related to ongoing healthcare reform, further confuses efforts to protect public health.
Smog standards are set in parts per billion. Regulatory standards set in 2008 by the Bush Administration at 75 parts per billion represent a regulatory decrease in allowable emissions from 84 parts per billion. To further tighten standards, 60 to 70 parts per billion is the standard to which the EPA wishes to move. Roughly translated, on a volume basis, the new standard would represent a boring sized daiquiri relative to an Olympic size pool. An exact figure for increased regulation is expected to be given by the EPA in August, possibly. How the figure will be determined is a matter of mystery held inside the EPA halls”.
Neither State governments nor the energy industry are claiming that smog is safe. Industry is however, claiming it will take time to reduce levels. The EPA seems oblivious to the idea that writing down new standards does not immediately shift the ability of industry and energy infrastructure to reduce smog. Reduction in smog levels requires time, highly skilled professionals, new technology implementation, reallocation of resources, and billions of dollars. No matter where you stand on energy policy, this announcement further expresses the desire of the EPA to expand in size, expense and power over States and in general practice.
Concern for Americans’ health from inhaling current smog levels is apparently so strong as to compel the EPA to place several hundred States' Counties in immediate ‘Violation’ of smog standards if the proposed standards are enacted. New standards will affect States and Counties never before in violation of smog emission standards. Kansas, Iowa, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota will be smog emission Violators for the first time, based on EPA data. States known for having high smog levels such as California and Texas will be pressured further to drastically reduce smog levels and stand to become set in a constant Federal grip of ever tightening environmental and health standards. The end result being higher energy cost for all States and a less competitive American economy.
As a measure to help ensure the proposed increase in environmental and health regulatory powers, the EPA threatens that States will face the loss of Federal highway funding if deemed to be in violation of the proposed standards. The connection between highway funding and smog is based in Federal powers to award States infrastructure funding. One may be inclined to think the United States Department of Transportation, the Surface Transportation Board, or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would also have to be involved, among other federal agencies. In uncomfortable silence, other Federal Agencies seem to be missing. Loss of State Rights will be a reality when an unchecked and unbalanced singular Federal authority forces environmental regulatory change.
By Federal logic, the EPA will be in need of up to $90 billion dollars in funding increases over a mere ten years to expand and 'manage' States' smog emissions, forcing States to also spend billions of tax dollars alike as their efforts to meet 2008 standards are nullified. Billions of tax dollars are required when one Federal agency wishes to change the rules for States’ energy infrastructure and users. No doubt the EPA will easily produce data of some sort showing smog as a death-nail for Americans if questioned on the new human health focus.
In response to the EPA, the American Petroleum Institute spokesperson commented, "There is absolutely no basis for EPA to propose changing the ozone standards promulgated by the EPA Administrator in 2008”. The API further states that such action will cause “politicization of the air quality standard setting process that will bring increased energy costs, job losses and less domestic oil and natural gas development and energy security." Organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute seemingly realize the simple fact that demanding drastic changes in Washington does not build a magic road to a smog free sky and a healthy population in this latest assault on American Industry and the Rights of States.  
- Jason Van Orsdol
Special Thanks to Bansky