Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quick Thoughts About NAM's Hyperbolic Report on Smog

I know few of us are thinking about smog on a day like this. But I see that the good people of NAM are – out with yet another hyperbolic report about the alleged impact of cleaning up the air.

Here are a couple of very quick thoughts to put these scare tactics into perspective:

As you can see, NAM has produced a very florid map purporting to show areas of the country that would be out of compliance with an ozone standard of 65 parts per billion, down from the current level of 75. (As I am sure you know, this is the most extreme outcome of EPA’s proposal, which was a range of 65-70).

But this map appears to be based on old information – data from 2011-2013. It apparently does not factor in one basic reality – that the air will be cleaner a decade from now than it is today because of various in-the-works pollution controls such as the Tier 3 clean-car, clean-gasoline standards.

EPA’s own projections conclude that outside California, only 9 counties in the entire country would be out of compliance with a standard of 70 in 2025, and that an additional 59 counties would fall short of a 65 standard.

By the way, I believe many if not most of these counties would meet a standard of 65 if EPA adopted tougher standards to reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides from new big-rig trucks. California is looking at exactly such a strategy. (Parts of California might not have to meet a new standard until as late as 2037.)

Another huge flaw in NAM’s logic: the business lobby contends that tougher air quality standards equate to “no growth.” All you have to do refute this notion is look at the facts:

IF NAM were correct, there would be “no growth” today in current dirty-air areas such as Texas and California. I offer for your consideration the most recent data on economic growth from the U.S. Department of Commerce Growth was very high in such “nonattainment” states as Texas – and was pretty strong even in California!!

Perhaps NAM has decided to appropriate a line from Groucho Marx: “Are you going to believe me, or what you see with your own eyes?”