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Chasing Mirages

Anyone who has spent any time in Arizona is familiar with a mirage. One of its characteristics is that the closer you move toward it, the farther it moves away from you. The end result is that, try as you might, you’ll never succeed in catching up to it.  
The new air-quality standards being proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are a lot like a mirage. The only difference is that there’s a good scientific explanation for a mirage — the same can’t be said for the new standards.
States have made considerable progress over the years in meeting federal cleaner-air standards. Between 1980 and last year, for example, the national average for ozone levels decreased by more than 20 percent. But just as the country was beginning to close in on meeting the ozone limits set by the EPA, the agency proposed revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. In June, the EPA announced that it wants to lower the standard for ozone from .08 parts per million to between .07 and .075 parts per million. The problem is not so much with the objective — everyone wants cleaner air.  The problem is that just as we are getting closer to meeting the original goal, the EPA now wants to move the goal posts.
If the EPA tightens the standard, it will make it harder for every area of Arizona, as well as nearly every other state, to be in compliance. One area that will be hit especially hard is one I’m most familiar with — agriculture.  Farms and ranches in the state are liable to be under attack like never before.
Franklin “Jake” Flake is a senator in the Arizona State Legislature. He represents District 5.

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