In comments filed on March 22, NAHB urged U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to drop a proposal to tighten air quality standards and make them apply to more U.S. cities and counties.
Predicting that the rule would have a disproportionately adverse impact on smaller metropolitan areas and severely impede economic recovery nationwide, NAHB said that the EPA should reestablish the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone that the agency promulgated in 1997.
Under that rule, 13 of the nation’s top 20 housing markets were designated as non-attainment areas, requiring state and local governments to regulate certain activities that they determined would increase ozone levels.
The EPA’s new proposal affects all 20 of those markets — including smaller metropolitan areas like Cedar Rapids, Iowa , and Topeka, Kan. — that have never had to manage Clean Air Act requirements.
“Individuals, small businesses and state and local governments will be doubly impacted by delays in completing key transportation infrastructure and housing projects, and by an overall interruption in economic progress,” the NAHB letter said.
This “will have a clear, direct and negative effect on NAHB members and the overall housing market, which is currently the hardest-hit sector of the America economy,” the letter continued.
In addition, the new rules do not take into account the naturally occurring background levels of ozone that any new regulations or restrictions cannot change, NAHB said.
The comments also criticized how the new standards were set. That process, NAHB charged, short-circuited procedures set by Congress in the Clean Air Act and included various substantive and procedural legal defects that are unprecedented and questionable, at best.
“NAHB strongly opposes today’s action not only because of its further impacts on industry and because it disregards the true background levels of ozone, but also because it is unlawful both substantively and procedurally,” the letter concluded.
For more information and to obtain a copy of the comment letter and other materials, e-mail Matt Watkins at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8327.