EPA Ozone Regs Threaten Over 75% of Illinois' Economy

Tyler McNally | July 9, 2015

Eighty percent of Illinois's employment and over 75 percent of the state's GDP would be threatened if the proposed EPA ozone standards are enforced.

The Center of Regulatory Solutions released a report detailing the potential damage the EPA's proposed regulations:

"The report details how the EPA’s ozone rule, which would be the most expensive regulation in history, could cause significant economic harm in Illinois – triggering substantial job cuts, reduced business spending, and economic uncertainty as manufacturing companies scramble to comply. According to EPA data, 21 counties in Illinois would be out of compliance or in “non-attainment” if EPA lowers ground level ozone standards from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 65 ppb. These 21 counties represent 79 percent, or $613.4 billion, of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 80 percent of its jobs."

The report focuses in on six counties in and around Chicago: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will. These six, CRS claims, will "be ground zero for the most onerous reduction obligations":

"These six counties are home to 65 percent of the state’s population, 73 percent of the state’s GDP and almost 70 percent of the state’s employment. At 65 ppb, five of the six counties would be in non-attainment, which significantly encumbers 65 percent of the state’s jobs."

The study finds that the new ozone regulations would only hurt Illinois's economy; an economy that is already struggling.

CBS Chicago reported in December that over two million Illinois residents had to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the month of November.

Cook County, which houses major cities like Chicago and Evanston, currently has an ozone level of 80 ppb, far exceeding the 65 ppb threshold of the proposed regulations. Ninety-two percent of the county's power production would be at risk, as six fossil fuel plants produce 955 MW (mega-watts) of power.

Additionally, DuPage County would be at risk of it's 832 MW natural gas power plant that produces 95 percent of the county's power capacity. Lake County is also at 80 ppb, but unlike Cook County, Lake has more to lose. Manufacturing workers, workers who will be affected by the proposed regulations, earn an average of $126,850, but that may soon be at risk because of the EPA.

In a twist, Will County produces more energy through fossil fuels, but has the lowest ozone level compared to the other five major counties. Even though Will has six fossil fuel plants with 5,188 MW of power, the county only produces an ozone average of 64 ppb.

The potential regulations could be devastating on the economy of many states, but would be especially harmful to Pres. Obama's home state.

Chicago Ozone Report