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More EPA diktats: How low will it go?

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Thursday, May 29, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tightens a national air-pollution standard for ozone will be an indication of its true intent: protecting health or re-engineering society.

Colorless, odorless ozone forms when sunlight reacts with volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emitted by both natural and man-made sources. The EPA is considering lowering the ozone standard to between 60 and 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb — a level that the EPA and a federal court agreed on in 2008 as protecting public health.

It's doing so even though “overwhelming ... scientific evidence indicates lowering the current ozone standard will not provide added health benefits,” Julie E. Goodman of the Harvard School of Public Health and air-pollution consultant Sonia Sax write in The Wall Street Journal.

They say the EPA makes unrealistic “worst-case” assumptions and hasn't consistently evaluated ozone studies' strengths and weaknesses, interpreting some “to indicate that ozone is more harmful than it likely is.” EPA models even show that reducing man-made ozone could increase natural ozone in some areas, and they also note that the proposed lower standard is close to some areas' natural ozone levels.

All this, plus the EPA's estimate that the lower standard could cost businesses up to $90 billion annually, begs the question: When is too much too much? When a tighter, costly pollutant rule won't enhance health but is imposed anyway — for no discernible reason but radical anti-growth politics.

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