CHARLESTON — West Virginia's Patrick Morrisey and 13 other state attorneys general in comments challenging a proposed rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would reduce the legal amounts of ground-level ozone.

“The levels proposed by the EPA are unachievable and unlawful,” Morrisey said in the letter sent to the EPA. “This is arguably one of the most expensive regulations proposed in the agency’s history, and it seeks to reduce ozone pollution that is already at naturally occurring levels.”

The letter, which was written by Morrisey and the attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma, says the EPA failed to demonstrate that its decision to establish a lower national ozone standard is necessary to provide adequate protection of the public health, as required by the Clean Air Act.

In addition, the EPA recently established a host of other regulations under the Clean Air Act that will ultimately result in a reduction of the levels of ozone in the air but have not been fully implemented. The letter says until those regulations go into effect it is impossible for the EPA to determine that the proposed ozone reduction is necessary.

The EPA wants to lower acceptable ozone emissions from .075 parts per million to between .065 and .070 parts per million, and seeks additional comment on further lowering it to .060 parts per million.

In the comment letter, the AGs argue change would cause them substantial harm if finalized. Specifically, states would be forced to spend substantial amounts of time and money to develop a plan to meet the lower threshold and then implement and enforce it.

Additionally, the letter argues that the rule will have a negative effect on economic growth at the state level because it will saddle manufacturers and industrial employers with heavy compliance costs.

“We urge the EPA to not finalize these new standards and allow the many other programs already undertaken by the agency to address any problems that this proposal is supposed to address,” Morrisey said. “This rule will be devastating to the states, doesn’t meet the standards set in law, and is simply another onerous regulation dreamed up by an out-of-touch and agenda-driven agency. It should not proceed.”

The letter was signed by attorneys general representing Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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