Yesterday the EPA proposed the nation’s strictest smog limits ever, a move that could put large parts of the county in violation of federal air-quality regulations. Utility companies, refineries and factories may have to spend up to $90 billion to meet the new smog standards depressing the countries an already weak economy.

More than 300 counties — mainly in southern California, the Northeast and Gulf Coast — already violate the current, looser requirements adopted two years ago by the Bush administration.

For the first time, counties in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, the Dakotas, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa might be forced to find ways to clamp down on smog-forming emissions from industry and automobiles, or face government sanctions, most likely the loss of federal highway dollars.

The tighter standards will be costly but will ultimately save billions in avoided emergency room visits, premature deaths, and missed work and school days, the EPA said.

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The proposal presents a range for the allowable concentration of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, from 60 parts per billion to 70 parts, as recommended by scientists during the Bush administration. That’s equivalent to a single tennis ball in an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of tennis balls.

EPA plans to select a specific figure within that range by August. Counties and states will then have up to 20 years to meet the new limits, depending on how severely they are out of compliance. They will have to submit plans for meeting the new limits by end of 2013 or early 2014.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents energy companies, said there was “no basis” for the EPA decision. In a statement, it said the change “could mean unnecessary energy cost increases, job losses and less domestic oil and natural gas development and energy security.”
The “proposal, if finalized, will keep unemployment high and put another Washington-based regulation in the way of economic recovery,” Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said in a statement.
Detroit, a city already in big economic trouble will be facing more with the new regulations, The Detroit News quotes Chuck Hersey of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments as saying,

“I liken it to scoring a touchdown and then having them rule that the end zone has been moved back a few yards,” said Chuck Hersey, the manager of environmental programs at the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).

Hersey and SEMCOG officials have worked with the region’s industries to help meet new air quality standards. Manufacturing plants have installed new emissions controls, builders have been required to cover new structures in special paints and gas stations have been required to sell low-vapor fuels during the summer months.

There isn’t much meat left on the bone to cut, Hersey said, and he estimates that meeting the strictest standards proposed by the EPA would cost the state “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

Look, I am not suggesting that Smog is a hoax like man-made global warming. But we are still in the midst of a bad economy, one that the POTUS himself called the worst since the great depression.  And now the EPA has decided that its the time for counties in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, the Dakotas, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa to join counties in Texas, California, and the northeastern coast in spending tens of billions of dollars conforming to stricter regulations. These new rules if enacted, will put new downward pressure on an already weak economy.

Gee I guess that means as I fill out my unemployment forms, I can at least enjoy cleaner air. Why thank you, EPA!

Note: Some of the background facts above were taken from CNS News