Projects near nation's capitol threatened by proposed EPA ozone regulations

Union Station, Washington D.C. | Courtesy of Shutterstock
The United States Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy recently released its initial report in a new series about the negative effects of proposed ozone regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threaten important transportation projects throughout the U.S. and within the Washington, D.C. area.

The report, titled "Grinding to A Halt," gives readers a detailed view of the challenges that U.S. communities will experience if the EPA’s ozone regulations proposal is approved. The new proposal will tighten all ozone standards to a standard of 65-70 parts per billion. If projects do not align with these standards, they could be delayed.

According to the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the authorization to deny finances for transit and highway projects if the areas are not able to show their compliance with the new emissions standards. The deadline for the projects to demonstrate their alignment with the standards is 2018.

"Federal funding for transportation projects has been a long and difficult battle, which continues to this day," Janet Kavinoky, executive director of Transportation and Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. "Just as there is finally some momentum in Maryland and Virginia thanks to new state funding, EPA's proposed ozone regulations threaten to halt progress. Ironically, withholding funding for road and public transit projects will actually result in increased ozone emissions by failing to reduce congestion and emissions from idling traffic."

Many areas, including Washington, D.C., will have challenges meeting the standards.

"EPA's strict new ozone standards could mean that badly needed transportation improvements in the Washington area will truly be grinding to a halt," Institute president and CEO Karen Harbert said. "D.C. area commuters already are facing some of the worst commutes in the nation, and now key projects intended to help like improving I-66 in Virginia, the Purple Line in Maryland, and the D.C. Streetcar are all being threatened by unreasonable standards that the region will have extreme difficulty meeting."

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