The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council came out against the federal government’s plans to toughen ozone air pollution standards, citing concerns about the impact increased regulations could have on local businesses.
The council voted unanimously in favor of a symbolic resolution expressing opposition to changing the current federal air quality standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Based on recommendations from a science advisory board, the EPA is expected to propose updated standards. Depending on how low the threshold is set, the Baton Rouge area could be out of compliance.
The standard now is 75 parts per billion, but it could be lowered to between 60 ppb and 70 ppb.
The Capitol Region has struggled to meet the federal ozone pollution standards for decades, and only came into compliance this year.
The resolution was sponsored by Councilman Buddy Amoroso, who said he’s concerned increased regulation would drive industry and jobs out of the state and country, and that utility companies may charge higher fees for customers to account for their own increasing compliance costs.
His resolution was backed by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.
“It will make it very, very difficult to attract industry to this state, and we believe the impacts are going to be quite severe, particularly for the Baton Rouge area,” said Jim Patterson, LABI vice president of governmental relations.
Kathy Wascom, legislative liaison for the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, said coming out against improving air quality standards sends the wrong message.
“There’s this mantra that if you regulate the environment then you’re going to lose jobs,” Wascom said. “That’s simply not true.”
She said businesses are attracted to healthy cities.
LEAN has argued that lowering ozone limits protects health, improves quality of life and provides economic savings in the form of fewer sick days and fewer trips to the emergency room.