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The EPA's Next Big Economic Chokehold

By Tony Cox, Wall Street Journal - September 2, 2015

This fall the Environmental Protection Agency plans to take its next grand regulatory step, following the announcement of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan over the summer. The agency is likely to introduce stringent new standards for ground-level ozone, arguing that a lower allowable level of ozone—an important component of smog—will reduce asthma in the U.S., among other claimed health benefits. Yet the EPA ignores decades of data and studies, some under the agency’s auspices, that reveal no detectable causal relation between past reductions in ozone and better public health, including reductions in asthma cases.

The new regulation may be the most expensive ever for the U.S. economy—even worse than the Clean Power Plan’s effect on coal-fired power plants. Some studies, such as one published in August by National Economic Research Associates, estimate implementation costs of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the short run, and trillions of dollars over the next two decades, as well as millions of lost jobs. Why would it be so costly? Because attacking ozone involves almost every facet of the economy—as the EPA notes, “automobiles, trucks, buses, factories, power plants” and “consumer products” all contribute to ground-level ozone.

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