You can’t breathe easy yet, Charlotte

From U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., in response to “Charlotte meets U.S. air standard” (July 30):

Last week, Charlotte reached a milestone. As reported in the Observer, we finally met the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 federal standard for ozone levels.

This seems like welcome news because it should take the threat of punishment from the EPA for being in “non-attainment” off the table … right?

Not so fast, Charlotte. The Obama administration wants to move the goal post by proposing significantly stricter limits that will throw our community right back into non-attainment. This comes at a time when, according to the EPA’s own data, America’s air is getting cleaner under existing standards.

This proposed rule is so strict that it’s below naturally occurring levels at the Great Smoky Mountains, where peak ozone levels are approximately 72 parts per billion. And not too far from Charlotte, one of our state’s beautiful treasures, the Uwharrie National Forest, would be out of attainment. Can you imagine pristine wilderness retreats not being in compliance with the EPA? It’s mind-boggling.

The administration is refusing to face the fact that the science doesn’t exist to meet the new standards and the rule would have major consequences for our economy. If we’re forced into non-attainment, construction of critical infrastructure will face months of delay. If one manufacturer wants to expand, it will have to find another one that will cut back. This means all across our state, power plants could shut down, manufacturing could stop and jobs could be lost.

On top of that, the president with his “Clean Power Plan” made another end run around Congress to fundamentally change how electricity is generated, distributed and consumed. Under the new regulations, our state is required to submit a complex plan and must meet short-term goals of carbon dioxide reductions and a final goal of 36 percent reduction by 2030.

These rules will cripple the economy, eliminate jobs and guarantee we have to pay higher energy prices without having any measurable impact on clean air. This is unacceptable.

We can and should keep the environment clean while protecting jobs and keeping energy affordable, but we have to be reasonable and follow science. The president has doubled-down in his war on American energy as he shops for a legacy on climate, but science, economics and common sense tell us he has missed the mark again.