API launches ads targeting EPA’s ozone proposal 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 15, 2015

The American Petroleum Institute announced what it calls a “major” advertising campaign against U.S. EPA’s proposed tightening of the ozone standard.

The goal of the television, radio, print and online ads is persuading EPA to retain the standard set in 2008 under President George W. Bush.

Howard Feldman, API senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, called the ozone standard one of the oil trade group’s “mission critical” areas. The trade group declined to say how much it’s spending on the ads, only that it’s devoting “significant resources.”

Ground-level ozone is a component of smog that forms when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react in sunlight. It’s caused health problems such as reduced lung function.

EPA last November proposed to lower the national ambient air standard for ozone to between 65 and 70 parts per billion. The agency said it determined after a review of research that the current 75 ppb limit was no longer adequate to protect public health (Greenwire, Nov. 26, 2014).

Industry has pushed back, arguing a lower ozone standard would result in high compliance costs with little benefit to public health.

API’s first TV ad shows blue skies and clouds while a voice-over touts progress in cleaning up the air.

“But bureaucrats want to change the current rules safeguarding public health,” the ad says. “They’re pushing an unnecessary regulation, potentially the most expensive ever, risking jobs nationwide.”

API plans to run its campaign until Oct. 1, the deadline set by a federal court for EPA to choose a final standard.

The campaign’s primary target is the general public, where the issue of ozone is currently “flying under the radar,” Feldman said.

“We think this is a very important issue, ozone, and it has a lot of impact both on business throughout the country, both large and small, and the public,” he said. “We think it’s important to get the ads out there to let people know how important this issue is.”

Environmentalists and public health advocates have pushed EPA to go even lower with the final standard, arguing that the science shows there are negative health effects associated with ozone exposures greater than 60 ppb.

According to the Clean Air Act, EPA is allowed to consider only public health, and not costs, when setting a national ambient air quality standard.

Last month, the Sierra Club launched a campaign to promote a 60 ppb standard that highlights children suffering from health threats that stem from ozone exposure. That campaign is also expected to run through October (Greenwire, April 22).

“Little lungs deserve healthy air,” Sierra Club Beyond Coal Director Mary Anne Hitt said in launching the club’s campaign, “and the EPA can take a huge step toward protecting our families and our communities by strengthening smog pollution protections.”