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Oil and Gas Lobbyists Claim The Sky is Falling

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
03 March 2011, 5:56 PM
The latest cluck from clean air "Chicken Littles"
The sky is falling again

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association put out a press statement today. As they have for the last 40 years, the pollution lobby warns that stronger standards will cause massive disruption.

"It [new ozone standards] will have a great, and again potentially very negative, impact on the prospects for job creation and retention over the next decade. And its impact on American citizens – the motorists, truckers, farmers and families that drive our great nation – will be felt for years to come."

The NPRA advises the EPA to do nothing. Keep the old standard. They promise to develop cleaner fuels without new regulations.

Just a few problems with this line of argument.

First, EPA's science advisory panel - which includes independent health and air quality experts - unanimously recommended a stronger ozone standard than the one adopted by the EPA under George W. Bush. A stronger standard will save thousands of lives each year and prevent tens of thousands of hospital and emergency room visits. Today, tens of millions of Americans live in communities with air that meets current standards, but, according to doctors at the nation's leading medical societies, is still unsafe to breathe.

Second, the notion that the air will get cleaner without stronger standards is fantasy. Congress adopted the Clean Air Act 40 years ago because a voluntary approach without strong standards had failed. Congress decided to strengthen the law in 1977 and 1990 to ensure progress. Yes, we have cleaner fuels and cleaner cars today, but only because of EPA rules requiring them -- and one of the main justifications for those rules is the need to meet clean air standards. Why do you think the oil companies are so vocally against stronger standards if they're planning to clean up fuels anyway?

Third, the claims of economic harm from stronger standards have been repeatedly debunked. The EPA estimates the health and other benefits of a stronger ozone standard could be worth as much as $48 billion per year more than they costs.

When polluters tell you the sky is falling, it’s helpful to remember we’ve heard this story before.

As EPA administrator Lisa Jackson reminds us, “Today’s forecasts of economic doom are nearly identical — almost word for word — to the doomsday predictions of the last 40 years. This ‘broken record’ continues despite the fact that history has proven the doomsayers wrong again and again.”

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