- - Monday, June 15, 2015

Could this be the last great American summer? It will be if President Obama and his grumpy band of killjoys at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) get their way.

Under orders from the president, the EPA has decided to wage war against summer staples such as backyard cookouts and Fourth of July fireworks shows.
Absurdly low ground-level ozone standards are the latest – and likely the most expensive and oppressive – regulations the EPA has proposed adding to its already mountainous list of rules and directives suffocating the American economy.

Because the proposed ozone standards are set so low, things as harmless as several barbeque grills cooking at the same time in the same area, or even a festive fireworks being launched during an Independence Day celebration, could tip an area already on the brink of surpassing federal ozone thresholds over the edge and into “nonattainment.” Such a violation of the EPA’s unreasonably low ozone limit would trigger fines and hand-slapping from federal regulators.

In an attempt to steer clear of punishment, local lawmakers are likely to respond to the new EPA rules by enacting municipal grilling bans and cancelling fireworks shows from coast-to-coast.

Environmental activists claim that something as harmless as a few fireworks or several families cooking burgers on the grill couldn’t get an area in trouble with the EPA, but it already has.

A few years ago, Independence Day fireworks put the city of Wichita, Kansas, in violation of the present-day ozone level.

What the EPA is now proposing would lower those existing standards by more than 13 percent – from 75 parts per billion to 65 parts per billion – to a level barely above the naturally occurring level of ozone in the atmosphere.

The move would put scores of cities out of compliance and force a crackdown on any activities that produce even miniscule amounts of ground-level ozone – be it bottle rockets or backyard barbeques.

The EPA attempts to justify its irrational proposal by pretending that it will do great things for air quality. In reality, the ozone regulations will create massive headaches for everyday Americans, but would do next to nothing for the environment.

Americans are already breathing the cleanest air in more than 30 years, and air quality in the U.S. continues to improve annually. Even the EPA itself doesn’t seem to understand why this new rule is needed. While testifying before Congress earlier this year, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy indicated that ozone levels would get down to 70 parts per billion over the next decade without this rule.

To make matters worse, the current EPA ground-level ozone standard was set just seven years ago. In fact, scores of places around the country are still in violation of the new standard and the EPA hasn’t yet cared to figure out how to help those get those areas into compliance. Now the agency wants to make it worse for those regions by moving the bar lower still. It’s as if the EPA is Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.

So what will this rule actually accomplish? Well, besides putting an end to grilling out and fireworks shows, it would kill jobs and stifle economic growth in America.

Recent studies by the National Association of Manufacturers and other groups have shown that the EPA’s new directive would be the most expensive regulation ever enacted, costing the economy $140 billion annually. Even the EPA’s own cost estimates acknowledge the economic hit from the proposed regulation would be well into the tens of billions of dollars a year.

If it is allowed to go into effect, the new ozone standard would leave the average American family with hundreds of dollars less in their pockets to spend on things like groceries, clothes and school supplies.

By now Americans shouldn’t be surprised the EPA is behind such a dimwitted and destructive rule. After all, the EPA is the same agency that pays its own scientists to do “independent” peer reviews of its ideas and even spent a considerable amount of time coming up with silly new regulations covering creeks, streams, ditches and big puddles.

Americans are breathing easier than they have in decades and, if the EPA just leaves things alone, ozone levels will drop another 36 percent by 2025. There is simply no need for Mr. Obama and the EPA to kill jobs, destroy the economy and end summer as we know it just to ram through irrational and unnecessary new environmental standards.

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