The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week drastic changes to the country’s smog regulations. Though the agency’s goal is to provide better protection for public health and welfare, implementing these standards has sparked some controversy.
‘EPA is stepping up to protect’Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread’pollutants we face,’ EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. ‘Using the best science to strengthen these standards is a long overdue action that will help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier.’
The regulations, adopted under former President George W. Bush, were less stringent than recommendations by scientists, but President Barack Obama is’looking to change this and follow EPA standards.
The Bush administration set a limit for smoke-forming pollutant at .075 parts per million, though the EPA wanted a stricter standard. Obama plans to set the level between .06 and .07 parts per million measured over eight hours, according to MSNBC, placing it at the recommended level set by EPA scientists in 2008.
These numbers are causing oil and gas industry executives to speak up against the proposed measure. They argue this is a mere ‘politicization’ by the Obama’administration, causing unnecessary costs all around.
According to MSNBC, a representative from the American Petroleum Institute (API) said: ‘There is absolutely no basis for EPA to propose changing the ozone standards promulgated by the EPA administrator in 2008. To do so is an obvious politicization of the air-quality-standard-setting process that could mean unnecessary energy cost increases, job losses and less domestic oil and natural gas development and energy security.’
API needs to reconsider the harm its pollution is causing before releasing statements like the one above.
Although the specifics aren’t set, the cost of compliance could run up to $90 billion, according to MSNBC. While this measure will be costly to the oil and gas industry, the benefits outweigh the costs.
Millions of Americans are exposed to unnecessary pollution every day from the oil factories that API represents. Decreasing the negative effects of pollution should be a top priority for all companies in the U.S.
For the next 60 days, the EPA will take comments from anyone’concerned with this issue. A total of three public hearings will be held before a final decision’is made.
Oil industry executives will likely attend these public’hearings, but in order to protect their health, citizens should also join the debate. America needs clean air, and people should not let oil executives compromise their customers’ health to make more profit.
Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and’economics.