The Utah Manufacturers Association and other members of the state's business community are urging Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to join their battle against proposed new Environmental Protection Agency ozone standards.
Earlier this year, the EPA proposed to tighten its ozone pollution regulations, with new rules to take effect in 2010. This pollutant largely formed from vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, solvents and power plants is believed to damage health under certain circumstances.
The association quotes EPA's analysis as saying industry will be required to spend $9.7 billion annually across the country to implement current standards.
"A new standard will cost manufacturers even billions more in compliance costs," says a letter from the association to Huntsman, dated Sunday. "Tighter ozone costs with no improvement in air quality seriously jeopardize our economic development efforts in Utah."
The letter calls on Huntsman to urge the EPA to keep the present standards.
"If EPA chooses its lowest recommended range of 60 parts per billion ... 12 counties in Utah would receive a non-attainment classification," the letter says. That would place nearly half the state in the category of not complying with the new rules.
In a telephone interview, the association's president, Thomas E. Bingham, said the state is in compliance with present rules while some parts of the country are not. Utah is making "pretty good strides" against ozone, he said.
But if the new standards go into effect, they would damage the state's economy while, the association believes, causing little or no improvement in air quality. If much of the state finds itself out of compliance because of new rules, Bingham added, "we lose federal funds for highways, water projects, a whole host of activities that could be withdrawn."
Utah could lose primacy in air quality matters, meaning the EPA would take over regulating this area rather than allowing the Utah Division of Air Quality to do it. That "could be quite a problem," Bingham added.
Donna Spangler, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said Huntsman has not taken an official position on the proposed new standards."They're reviewing the standards right now," she said. Officials are "still trying to review it to see what the implications would be."