The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to reduce the pollution that causes smog. Gov. Nathan Deal opposes the plan.
He is one of 11 governors that sent a letter to the EPA earlier this week, outlining concerns with a proposed rule that would lower the limits on ozone.
They call it a “job-crushing standard,” writing that it would threaten business growth and limit road construction. Deal submitted a similar letter, without the other governors’ signatures, in February. (That letter is embedded below.)
Atlanta is still trying to get down to the old limits the EPA issued in 2008. If they’re lowered even more, other cities in the state will have to cut their smog, too, according to Keith Bentley, chief of the air branch at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
“It seems like our goals keep getting pushed out,” Bentley, who shares the governor’s concerns, said. “Once we’ve done everything we can think of, and the number is still tighter, we’re not quite sure where to go.”
According to the EPA, lowering the limits on ozone would improve public health.
Georgia’s air is cleaner than it used to be. Ashten Baily, an attorney at the Atlanta firm GreenLaw, said that shows that environmental rules don’t necessarily kill jobs.
“We’ve been operating under Clean Air Act regulations for a long time, and our economy is still increasing,” Baily said.
The EPA expects to release its final decision later this year.