EPA: New Smog Restrictions Will Save Billions, Improve Public Health

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Federal regulators on Wednesday proposed new, lower limits for smog in our atmosphere.

The proposed regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would limit ground-level ozone to between 65 and 70 parts per billion. But they're not stopping there: The EPA also said it wanted to lower that threshold even further—to 60 parts per billion (which is where an independent scientific advisory panel has recommended), but wanted public comment before reaching that far. The current level—set in 2008—is 75 parts per billion. The EPA says it wants to finalize its rule by October of next  year.

"The standards would clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk—our children, our elderly and people already suffering from lung diseases like asthma," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote in an editorial.

The proposal is certain to reignite the ongoing debate between environmental groups and business lobbyists. The EPA estimates that the proposed new standard could cost between $3 billion and $15 billion in 2025, but the public health benefit would range between $6.4 billion and $19 billion annually, with the particular benefit of preventing respiratory problems, especially in young children.

In this week's edition of Boise Weekly, which hits the streets today, we chronicle the small, but engaged community of electric car owners in the Treasure Valley.

"As a town car, you can't beat these," Reed Burkholder, a self-proclaimed "electric evangelist," told BW. "In this car, I am getting 200 miles for the electricity cost of $3.70, the same price as one gallon of gasoline, which I think is freaking off the scale. This is a superior technology."


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