EPA announces new limit on ozone emissions

Story highlights

  • The limits announced by the EPA lower the allowable amount of ozone in the air from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion
  • The new rules are less stringent than what some environmentalists had hoped for, but prompted anger from manufacturers

Washington (CNN)The Obama administration unveiled new limits on smog-producing ozone emissions Thursday, though the new rules are less stringent than what some environmentalists and public health experts had hoped for.

Conversely, the rules prompted anger from manufacturers, who said the new limits could place undue curbs on their business.
    The limits announced by the Environmental Protection Agency lower the allowable amount of ozone in the air from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. Ozone is created when emissions from cars and industrial plants is heated by sunshine, and poses a health risk for children and elderly people.
    "Put simply -- ozone pollution means it hurts to breathe for those most vulnerable: our kids, our elderly and those suffering from heart and lung ailments," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. "Our job is to set science-backed standards that protect the health of the American people. Today's action is one of the most important measures we can take for improving public health, reducing the costs of illness and protecting our children's health."
    The Obama administration has taken aggressive action under authorities in the Clean Air Act to reduce different types of emissions, including methane and carbon from power plants. Obama hopes to secure his environmental agenda through regulations, since Congressional action has failed to gain traction.
    Proponents of limiting ozone emissions were pushing for a stricter rule, and an initial report from the EPA recommended lowering the threshold to between 60 and 70 parts per billion.
    In going with the upper end of that range, the administration disappointed some environmentalists who advocated for tighter rules.
    "I'm very disappointed that the EPA and President Obama enacted such a weak smog standard, considering how damaging it is to our environment and public health," said Karen Monahan, a representative of the Sierra Club.
    Meanwhile, the group representing American manufacturers said the rule, while not as restrictive as it could have been, was nonetheless a job-killer.
    "After an unprecedented level of outreach by manufacturers and other stakeholders, the worst-case scenario was avoided," said Jay Timmons, the president of the National Association of Manufacturers. "But make no mistake: the new ozone standard will inflict pain on companies that build things in America—and destroy job opportunities for American workers."