New Smog Rules: Good But Later Than They Had to Be

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New Smog Rules: Good But Later Than They Had to Be

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:34 pm

New Smog Rules: Good But Later Than They Had to Be
By Robert B. Semple Jr.
November 26, 2014 2:59 pm

The Obama administration’s announcement on Wednesday of a proposed rule limiting emissions of smog-causing ozone in the atmosphere is, on one level, great news. Smog contributes heavily to asthma and other respiratory diseases, leading to needless deaths and hundreds of thousands of otherwise avoidable hospitalizations and emergency room visits. The proposed new standard would reduce the level of allowable ozone in the atmosphere from the current 75 parts per billion — a weak standard in place since 2008 — to a range of 65 and 70 parts per billion.

But before we get all dewy-eyed about this, let’s note that a federal judge ordered the administration to deliver the new standard after environmentalists sued. More importantly, let’s also note that the nation would already have more or less the same standards in place had the White House not caved in to political expediency and pulled the rug out from under the previous administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who made much the same proposal in 2011.

Following the recommendations of not one, but two independent scientific advisory boards convened by the agency, both of which deemed the 75 parts per billion standard obsolete and injurious to public health, Ms. Jackson proposed a standard of 65 parts per billion, though she was willing to go as high as 70. Industry, as usual, kicked up a huge fuss, since the new standards would require major investments in pollution controls to reduce the power plant and industrial emissions that help create ozone. With the 2012 election looming, Mr. Obama’s nervous political advisers, mainly his chief of staff William M. Daley, and his bean-counters, mainly his regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, chose to listen to industry, not the scientists. Ms. Jackson was summoned to the White House for a frosty half-hour session with the president, who then announced that he would not adjust the ozone rule because of regulatory uncertainties and costs (never mind that the Clean Air Act and the Supreme Court had said that cost may not be lawfully taken into account in setting national air quality standards.)

The president’s relationship with the environmental community hit rock bottom, and for good reason. “This was the worst thing a Democratic president has ever done on our issues,” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation voters, said later. Ms. Jackson and her staff were publicly embarrassed. The decision also put the Justice Department, when environmentalists sued the administration to force a new standard, in the bizarre position of defending the weak Bush-era rules, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that they should be greatly improved.

Now, his last campaign behind him, a president who promised in his inaugural address to “restore science to its rightful place” has finally listened to the scientists. Forget for the moment that the decision was made under court order. At least he made it.

source
http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/201 ... had-to-be/
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