Capito Works to Halt Harmful EPA Ozone Regulation in West Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) co-sponsored a bill this week to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing ground-level ozone limits that would deal a crippling blow to the state of West Virginia.

The Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act fights back against the economic harm projected to accompany the stricter ground-level ozone limits by requiring the EPA to focus on the worst areas for air quality before lowering ozone limits across the board.

“With a price tag of more than $800 million per year in West Virginia, the EPA’s proposal to lower ground-level ozone limits will only weaken our state’s already troubled economy. Thousands of West Virginians depend on energy and manufacturing jobs to make ends meet. I cannot stand by and allow this administration to turn off the lights for the dozens of states that rely on West Virginia coal.  This bipartisan bill takes a stand for hard-working families and reigns in this job-killing regulation,” said Senator Capito.

The National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone was lowered from 84 parts-per-billion (ppb) to 75 ppb in 2008. Most of the country currently does not meet this standard. Still, the EPA proposed tightening the current ground-level ozone standard even further, and the agency is seeking comment on levels as low as 60 ppb.  Even at 65 ppb, 34 of West Virginia’s 55 counties would likely be out of attainment.

The CASE Act, introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), requires 85 percent of areas not meeting the current 75 ppb standard to come into compliance before the EPA can lower the standard even further. The act also requires the EPA to consider the costs and feasibility of a lower standard, which it currently does not consider, and prohibits the EPA from using unreliable modeling to expand nonattainment areas to rural counties that otherwise would not be impacted by the costly regulation.