Lower ozone limits could impact Utah

Posted at 8:22 PM, Nov 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-26 22:22:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - A proposed reduction in acceptable levels of ozone has some industry leaders worried about what it will do the energy industry.

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled their proposal. Directors are recommending lowering the ozone limit from 75 parts per billion to 65 to 70 parts per billion. One of the main goals is for public health, and the recommendations are based on scientific reports into the effects of pollution.

"We want to make sure we're protective of public health," says Utah DEQ spokesperson Donna Spangler. "And we want to make sure people aren't exposed to any dangerous levels of pollution."

Spangler says the proposal isn't unexpected. The EPA reviews standards periodically as part of their monitoring, but Utah Petroleum Association president Lee Peacock says manufactures are still adjusting to the last round of changes.

"It, in our view, is premature to consider lowering it even further," says Spangler. "It will make it very difficult for states like Utah, particularly western states, to meet those lower standards."

Ozone is primarily a problem in the summer, and comes form vehicle emissions or refinement burn off reacting in the heat.

Presented primarily as a health issue, politicians are turning it into a political one. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, released a statement on the proposal saying in part:

"Rather than pile on additional, unwarranted regulations like this one, we ought to focus instead on reducing outdated and unnecessary rules."

Mayor Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake City, praised the proposal, saying we have a high level of asthma along the Wasatch Front, and reducing ozone pollution would reduce the risk of asthma sufferers from having asthma attacks.

The EPA is currently taking public comment on the proposal. Any action wouldn't be expected until at least next year.