WASHINGTON (CNNfn) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules that it hopes will improve the health of those who live in polluted areas.
While the agency's goal is to make breathing in the nation's major cities a little easier -- especially for those with respiratory illnesses -- the industries that would be affected by the proposal are not happy. They've already spent billions to comply with previous rules and don't believe it's time to raise the bar higher.
One of the many areas across the country that has problems with pollution are Riverside and San Bernadino, Calif. Despite already tough air pollution rules, particulate matter in the air is still high.
Using data from new studies that promise significant public health benefits, the EPA is convinced now is the time to strengthen air quality rules nationwide.
EPA Administrator Carol Browner said the new rules are aimed at saving lives and preventing illnesses. (132K WAV) or (132K AIFF)
Industries that face large expenditures to comply with the proposed changes insist the additional health benefits are unproven.
Paul Bailey of the American Petroleum Institute said the cost of the proposals -- beginning with 3 to 5 cents a gallon more for reformulated gasoline -- is not justified.
"If these standards are tightened, there will be more cities around the country that will be using this more expensive reformulated gasoline. Also, it may require the reformulation of diesel also," Bailey said.
Reformulation of diesel would raise the cost of trucking and everything delivered by truck. Other industries, such as electrical utilities, are already spending heavily to meet earlier anti-pollution standards.
"The costs are approximately $4 billion a year to the electric utility industry and to the customers that pay the bills. Now the new reductions the EPA is about to release would probably be about the same magnitude -- $4 billion to $5 billion a year," said Robert Beck of the Edison Electric Institute.
Some of the affected industries, including automobile and furniture manufacturing, steel and trucking have begun a joint lobbying effort to delay the changes until the health effects can be fully researched.
The new standards would go into effect next summer after industries, public health organizations and the public comment on them. Then the states would have years to draft enforcement plans. That means any actual improvement in the air we breathe would take a decade or longer to actually appear.