Cleaner air/has a price/plus a gain

To hear the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tell it, the Obama administration is about to regulate Nevada into years of needless economic pain:

• The state could lose $19 million in gross domestic product from 2017 to 2040.

• There could be 6,000 fewer jobs in the state each year.

• The federal government could withhold $346 million for 10 highway projects planned for 2018 and 2019.

And the report off-loaded during last week’s chamber fright tour could be right on the mark.

The issue is ozone. How much do you like the tailpipe gas that’s a key ingredient in the state’s air pollution problem?

The Environmental Protection Agency is about to propose rules that would lower the permissible limit on ozone from 75 to 65 parts per billion, a dictum that would put the Las Vegas Valley among 331 communities in violation. That could trigger sanctions.

Of course, it also could trigger cleaner air, less coughing, fewer asthma cases, longer lives and those bluer skies could cause more companies to move to Nevada and create more jobs.

On balance, it feels a bit like a “could” standoff that’s just dripping in politics.

That’s a shame.

Air pollution is an important issue in our quality of life and one that has weight in the economic development conversations.

Fear of the unknown, however, is one of the oldest tricks in the Luddite tool bag.

Every change in every field of human endeavor involves winners and losers. We live in a world of constant economic dislocation, sea changes and game changers. We celebrate innovators of disruptive technology. Whole industries go the way of the buggy whip each decade.

We here in Las Vegas have endured the ravages of the Great Recession and yet the Chamber of Commerce chose to come 2,500 miles to threaten us with economic ramifications that in total could amount to rounding error.

What alternative is the chamber offering? Nothing but more of the same slow erosion of air quality.

No sale.

I’ll take my chances with the EPA, science and our ability to innovate our way to better days ahead.

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