Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Officials Question New Air Quality Rules

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Officials Question New Air Quality Rules

Article excerpt

Stricter air quality regulations on ozone and particulate matter have state and local officials questioning the cost of implementation and whether the forecasted benefits will be realized.

The new standards approved in late June by President Clinton are based on proposed requirements issued last fall by Carol Browner, Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

The proposals sparked a major lobbying campaign by business to block implementation and generated opposition in Congress, where Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is among those leading the challenge. Formal publication in the Federal Register is scheduled for July 19, with the requirements becoming effective 60 days later. The intervening period allows time for Congress to review the new administrative agency regulations. The new rules lower the size of regulated particulate matter from 10 microns, known as PM-10, to 2.5 microns, or PM-2.5. The agency said this is the first time in 20 years the ozone standard will be updated. Michael Dean, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, questioned the scientific data underlying the projected benefits, however. To date, he said, the data they used has been consistently discredited. Dean said DEQ fears the proposals will harm Oklahoma's environment for two reasons: * The money that will be used to meet the new requirements could be better spent to address known environmental problems, and * Environmental protection efforts are discredited as a whole when officials attack problems the public does not believe to be problems or otherwise does not understand. The new rules, he said, will force Oklahoma to participate in the ozone transport group of states, an association Oklahoma officials dropped out of earlier. He questioned EPA assertions on improved health that will be achieved under the new standards. He said DEQ does not doubt that there are health effects associated with smog and soot but data shows those problems to be concentrated in southern California and the portions of New England traditionally known as the Rust Belt. …

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