Texas-led states’ letter to EPA asks to scrap ozone plans

Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott applauds Gov. Rick Perry during a farewell speech to a joint session of the Texas Legislature, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott has requested that the Environmental Protection Agency scrap plans to tighten national emission limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness, arguing the change would be bad for the economy.

The new regulations on ground-level ozone, proposed last November, would “stifle economic growth and job creation,” Abbott said in a statement Monday announcing a letter sent to EPA director Gina McCarthy.

In the letter, sent a day before the EPA’s public comment period on the proposal ends and signed by Abbott and the governors of 10 other states, the agency is urged to maintain the current standard at 75 parts per billion.

The EPA is considering a range as low as 60 parts per billion, which the governors decry as “extreme” and “job crushing.” Business groups have panned the new regulations as unnecessary and the costliest in U.S. history, but the American Lung Association says they don’t go far enough.

Strengthening the standard will “significantly” reduce the number of asthma attacks and premature deaths caused by ozone, EPA Region 6 spokesman David Gray said.

Responding to the claim that tighter emission limits would damage the economy, Gray said that the EPA and states have worked over decades to improve air quality “by nearly 70 percent, while our economy has more than tripled.”

The EPA has until October to issue a final rule.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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