Manufacturing Trade Group Targets Kentucky for Ads Opposing Future Ozone Standard

Kentucky is one of three states targeted by a new ad campaign opposing stricter federal standards on ozone.

Ozone is one of the pollutants that’s included in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which the Clean Air Act requires to be periodically reviewed and updated. A federal judge has ordered a draft of the revision by December, but the EPA hasn’t announced what the new standard will be.

Despite the lack of information about the new standard, the National Association of Manufacturers is already opposing it. The trade group released a report earlier this month, analyzing the effects of a hypothetical standard of 60 parts per billion (down from the current 75 ppb standard). Under that scenario, NAM is predicting catastrophic effects for the country’s economy and manufacturing sector.

NAM also targeted three states—Kentucky, North Carolina and Colorado—for radio ads. The spot that aired in Kentucky claims that stricter ozone regulations would cause “almost 30,000 job losses every year” and take “$32 billion out of our economy over the next 23 years.”

Progressive think tank Media Matters dissected NAM’s report and found several issues. Besides ignoring both the health benefits that would come with reducing dangerous ozone pollution and the fact that the EPA is required to take the latest science into account when reviewing the NAAQS, experts criticized the NAM report’s methodology.

Ozone is a particularly tricky pollutant, because it’s created when pollution from cars and industries bakes in the sun. The sometimes-stagnant air of the Ohio River Valley has also contributed to ozone pollution issues in the past in Louisville, most notably during the summer of 2012. But despite that bad summer, the Louisville Metro area is currently in attainment with the 75 ppb standard.

Air Pollution Control District spokesman Tom Nord said that might not be the case if the standard is tightened, but that’s OK.

“The Clean Air Act is like a continuous improvement plan,” he said. “It’s baked into the cake that the standards are going to change. So that when a new standard comes in, it’s a process, you work with the EPA, you work with the community to find ways to reduce your pollution levels and they give you a target date.”

Meanwhile, NAM is ramping up its campaign in Kentucky. Unlike the Colorado and North Carolina ads, which urge listeners to ask Democratic senators Mark Udall and Kay Hagan respectively to fight the standards, the Kentucky ad praises Sen. Mitch McConnell. “Thankfully, Kentucky has Mitch McConnell fighting the special interests every step of the way,” the ad said. “Tell him thanks for standing for Kentucky manufacturing and fighting costly new energy regulations.”

The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers along with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a conference call Wednesday to discuss the NAM report’s findings.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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