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ARTBA Urges U.S. Senate to Oppose New Ozone Standard

Tue August 28, 2007 - National Edition
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The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) urged members of the U.S. Senate to oppose stricter federal ozone standards, which could potentially jeopardize transportation funding for more than 500 counties. ARTBA instead recommended retaining current ozone standards, allowing the nation to continue to make progress towards cleaner air while at the same time pursuing desperately needed transportation improvements.

ARTBA submitted testimony at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety regarding a proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten the federal ozone standard from .08-parts per million (ppm) to a level between .075-ppm and .070 ppm. According to EPA’s own estimates, however, the proposed new standard could result in anywhere from 398 to 533 counties being classified as in “nonattainment” status.

“Any tightening of the ozone standard would increase the number of counties that do not comply with [Clean Air Act] standards. As a result, federal highway funds can be withheld from these communities,” ARTBA stated. “ARTBA strongly believes recent recommendations to tighten ozone standards ignore the public health and welfare of those citizens in areas where transportation improvement projects will be jeopardized.”

ARTBA has repeatedly pointed out tightening standards is akin to “moving the goalposts” in the middle of a game, as the existing ozone standards are still being implemented in many counties. EPA’s own data show the transportation sector has significantly reduced ozone emissions over the past several decades — without tighter federal standards. ARTBA has further noted tighter ozone emission regulations ignore the public safety and health consequences that would result from the accompanying denial of federal highway funds in areas that fail to meet the new standard.

ARTBA has been working against stricter ozone standards since the EPA began studying the issue in September 2006. ARTBA vigorously opposed tighter ozone standards March 5 in written testimony before EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and was the only construction-related association to voice the industry’s concerns in oral testimony before the committee.

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