Washington, D.C. – The Subcommittee on Environment today held a hearing to examine the scientific basis of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone. Witnesses also discussed the potential impacts of the proposed new national standards on rural areas and the agricultural sector of the United States.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.): “I am deeply concerned lowering ozone standards at this time will have a negative impact, particularly on rural America. Two sectors of the economy that will be heavily impacted by this rule are agriculture and transportation. A classification of non-attainment would mean that the federal government can withhold federal highway funds for projects and plans if the individual projects do not meet specific emissions and air quality standards. The EPA is moving the goalposts and proposing to tighten the standards without first fully implementing the existing 2008 standard.”

Ozone is a gas that occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere as well as at ground level. Ozone in the upper atmosphere helps protect the Earth from the sun’s harmful rays such as ultraviolet radiation. Ozone at ground level is not directly emitted into the air, but instead is created by chemical reactions.

Witnesses today raised several concerns surrounding the science EPA uses to justify stricter national ozone standards. For example, in several rural areas it could be impossible to meet these standards due to high levels of naturally occurring ozone.

The following witnesses testified:

The Honorable Jim Reese, Secretary and Commissioner of Agriculture, Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture

Ms. Cara Keslar, Monitoring Section Supervisor, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality - Air Quality Division

Dr. Paul J. Miller, Deputy Director and Chief Scientist, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management

Mr. Kevin Abernathy, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Milk Producers Council; Vice Chair, Dairy CARES

The Honorable Todd Hiett, Commissioner, Oklahoma Corporation Commission


For more information on the hearing, including testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Committee website.