Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

American Petroleum Institute Decries Tighter Air Quality Standards

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

American Petroleum Institute Decries Tighter Air Quality Standards

Article excerpt

Ozone standards established in 2008 could change again by the end of the year, an official with the American Petroleum Institute said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City and Tulsa clean air officials continue to work on voluntary measures to maintain the state's status.

Predictably API, a national trade association representing oil and natural gas interests, decried any attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten air quality standards. The API claimed that air quality continues to improve under existing standards as the tighter rules would not provide any significant benefit to the environment.

If the EPA issued new standards, it would put 97 percent of the nation in nonattainment, said Howard Feldman, API director of regulatory and scientific affairs, at a press conference Thursday.

"These could be the costliest EPA regulations ever," Feldman said. "Nearly the entire country could effectively be closed for business should EPA move forward with this proposal."

Current ozone standards are 75 parts per billion, or ppb, and Oklahoma is within the standard.

But, according to the EPA's timetable, the agency could propose 60 ppb by the end of the year, Feldman said, meaning that 97 percent of the population would live in places out of compliance and subject to new emission reductions requirements.

The proposed 60 ppb was on the table a year ago, said Jerry Church, spokesman of the Oklahoma City-based Association of Central Oklahoma Governments. If the 60 ppb went into effect, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Enid and counties stretching north all the way to Wichita, Kan., would be out of compliance. Governments in the region would face stiff penalties and motorists would be required to use costlier fuel.

"It appears that EPA is trying to stick to the schedule," Church said.

Officials with ACOG, the Tulsa-based Indian Nationals Council of Governments, the state Department of Environmental Quality and staffs from Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration have met over the past few years to discuss strategy, Church said. Both ACOG and INCOG are voluntary associations of cities, towns and county governments. The ACOG region includes Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Logan counties. The INCOG includes Creek, Osage, Rogers, Tulsa and Wagoner counties.

"But, until we are declared nonattainment, it's difficult to identify control measures or strategies at this point," Church said. …

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