Henry Waxman (D- CA) knows how to bully people he doesn't like, using the power of the Congressional subpoena and committee hearings in order to destroy those that have pissed him off. Never mind that in many cases those he decides to “investigate” are guilty of nothing other than doing something he doesn't like.
Mr. Waxman purports to be upset because the EPA's science advisory board had endorsed a standard between 0.06 and 0.07, down from the current 0.084. Many others, including government and industry officials from around the country, had urged EPA to keep the current standard. Mr. Johnson split the difference, explaining that virtually all of the remaining human health risks from ozone could be eliminated at 0.075 parts per million.
This is a reasonable judgment given that ever-tighter ozone standards cost a great deal to meet but yield ever-smaller gains in public health. The big problem with the science board's recommendation is that nearly 90% of U.S. cities would have been in instant noncompliance. They would then have had to limit vital economic activity – road building, factory production – to meet the standard. And unemployment is bad for public health too.
As it happens, Mr. Waxman's own 30th California House district is already in gross violation of even the 1997 Clinton Administration standard of 0.084. In fact, Southern California is the only area in the country that has been designated by the EPA to be in "extreme noncompliance" with the ozone standards, which conveniently means it has been granted 20 years to clean up its act.
The odds are close to zero that Mr. Waxman's district could come anywhere close to complying even with the new EPA standard, much less the one the Congressman wants to impose on the entire country.
So why would Congressman Waxman work so hard for these tighter standards? When it comes to his home district, that being an area comprising Santa Monica, Westwood, and Beverly Hills, he will do what he can to ensure his district won't have to comply with federal ozone requirements as laid out by the EPA. How does he go about it? Simply by making sure the federal ozone standards are so tough that no city anywhere in the nation complies with them. That takes the pressure off of his district to comply. His protestations to the contrary, he is no friend of the environment, nor of the economy. His actions, should he get his way, could seriously damage the US economy to meet standards that are damn near impossible for anyone to meet. The cost would be astronomical, with little, if any benefit to show for the funds spent. To make the ozone levels lower than what the EPA has suggested is a perfect example of going past the point of diminishing returns. The old axiom goes that it takes 10% of the money (and time) to reap 90% of the benefits, and 90% of the money (and time) to reap the last 10% of the benefits. At what point do you say it's enough, that further expenditures of time and money will garner little added benefit? I guess Mr. Waxman's answer would be "Never!"