Alexander Says At Least Seven Tennessee Counties Could Be Hurt By Obama Administration’s New Ozone Regulation

New standard jeopardizes job creation in at least 358 counties nationwide

Posted on October 1, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 1 – New ozone rules set by the White House jeopardize the economies of at least 358 counties nationwide, including at least seven in Tennessee, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said Thursday.

“This rule is premature. Recent federal pollution-control rules reducing ozone-causing pollutants – which I have consistently supported – are already making our air significantly cleaner and healthier. We need to give the regulations already put in place time to work before impose new burdensome regulations could make it harder for them to attract new jobs,” Alexander said.

“If counties in Tennessee want to encourage job growth, they’ve got to have clean air so companies can easily get permits to build new plants or expand existing facilities. Counties with poor air quality need to have time to comply with the current ozone standard before EPA implements a new ozone standard – especially those that have made progress, such as Anderson, Blount and Knox.”

The new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, approved by the Obama Administration Thursday, will reduce the allowable ozone level in the air from 75 ppb (parts per billion) to 70 ppb. Under the federal Clean Air Act, counties must meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards to achieve “attainment status.” Counties who don’t meet requirements must comply with tougher air emission standards, which make it harder to attract companies looking to build new manufacturing plants or expand existing operations.

As of January 2015, there were 227 counties in 26 states and the District of Columbia that had ozone over the current 75 ppb attainment limit. Four of those counties were in Tennessee. However, this summer, Anderson, Blount and Knox counties reached attainment for ozone, and only Shelby County remains on the list of counties in Tennessee that have nonattainment status for ozone.

But the new EPA ozone standard could put more Tennessee counties in danger of not meeting ozone requirements – joining at least 358 counties nationwide that could be in jeopardy, based on EPA monitoring figures.

In June, Sen. Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, cosponsored The Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) that would prevent EPA from tightening the ozone standard until 85 percent of counties in nonattainment for ozone in January could meet the 75 ppb standard.

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