Carter County mayor joins letter campaign to protest EPA rule

Published 10:00 am Sunday, July 26, 2015

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey has joined several local and state officials across Tennessee in writing to Washington, D.C., in protest of proposed changes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ground-level air quality standards.

Humphrey wrote to the White House to express his concern and opposition to significantly stricter ground-level ozone limits that the EPA is currently considering. He has joined local officials across Tennessee as well as the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Manufacturers Association in opposing the proposal.

If stricter limits are enacted, Humphrey is concerned that ozone standards may cost jobs as counties could be hampered in attracting employers.

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“The harsher National Ambient Air Quality Standard under consideration would carry a substantial economic hardship for counties,” Humphrey said. “As we, as a nation, continue to make our way out of the economic downturn, I urge the Administration to help us keep the momentum going by turning down the proposed lower ozone standards.”

The proposed regulations would set up substantial barriers to economic development in non-attainment counties, and it would become difficult for many existing businesses to expand. Counties could also lose federal highway funds.

The NAAQS would go from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to as low as 65 ppb, under the proposal. Carter County is in compliance the current limit, but could run the risk of non-compliance, as could 88 of the 95 counties in Tennessee, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Tennessee stands to lose an estimated 13,575 jobs or job equivalents and $32 billion in gross state product from 2017 to 2040, according to NAM. It would cost Tennessee drivers an added $768 million to own and operate their vehicles during that same period, NAM says.

Meanwhile, a new survey shows that 67 percent of Americans rate their local air quality as excellent or good, and more than half oppose stricter federal environmental regulations on local businesses. By a nearly three-to-one margin, Americans think that a bigger problem for their local area is “less economic growth and job opportunities caused by regulations” rather than “lower air quality caused by pollution,” according to the findings released by NAM.

For more information on the economic ramifications of the stricter NAAQS, visit