Red tape abounds during our red, white and blue Independence Day celebrations, especially the fireworks displays.
Not only do federal regulations govern the import, testing, shipping, sales and displays of firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets, fountains, sparklers and all the rest, but bureaucrats consider fireworks to be a dangerous pollutant. The EPA’s new ozone limits threaten to force communities to cancel the holiday extravaganzas.
Already, communities must ask the Environmental Protection Agency to grant an “exceptional event” waiver when smoke from a public fireworks display drifts near an air-quality monitoring station. Without the waiver, the community could be penalized for polluted air. But the in-the-works restrictions on ozone make it worse.
The current rules say only 75 parts per billion of ozone are permitted; that’s being lowered to 65 or 70. Imagine the difficulty of finding and removing a handful of molecules mixed-in with a billion others.
Unsure whether they can get EPA waivers, the promoters may have to drop fireworks shows altogether, lest their town be hit with a loss of highway funds or other punishments for being a “non-attainment” area.
The fireworks industry complains that President Obama’s regulators are “completely insane” by forcing so many rules on their patriotic industry.
Fireworks use is up, but the rate of injuries is down, says Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.
She told POLITICO, “the overall usage of backyard consumer fireworks has increased significantly during the past decade, and when you look at the use of fireworks and compare then the number of injuries, actually, the injury rate has declined. I’m not aware of one other consumer product on the market today where the usage has risen so dramatically, yet the injuries have gone down.”
Self-policing by the industry is a big part of that, she says, with self-imposed standards that are tougher than federal regulations to make fireworks safer.
But Heckman complains, “I’ve been working with the industry for a very long time, 26 years. I have never seen as many rulemaking initiatives as I have with this administration. It has just been completely insane. . . . we’ve got to comply with ATF, CPSC, EPA, OSHA, multiple divisions of the Department of Transportation; it’s really challenging.”