May 22, 2009

Scientists Playing Larger Role In Pollutant Standards

According to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the government will reverse a Bush administration policy and increase the role of scientists in creating air standards for pollutants.

The EPA will reinstate a policy document called "staff paper" written by agency scientists that analyzes options for the EPA to consider when creating air standards.

The staff paper process was replaced with a notice of proposed rule-making which outlined options for air rules in the Federal Register during the Bush administration.

Environmentalists believed the Bush administration process increased the role of political appointees too early in the decision-making process.

"These changes will help us bring a greater rigor and openness to our standard-setting process and improve the scientific basis for our standards," Jackson said in a press release.

The move aligned with President Barack Obama's promise to amplify the role of science when regulating pollutants.

There are six "criteria" pollutants that often originate from big industry and engines; they are particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Environmental groups cheered the decision.

"Now the EPA once again will fully utilize its scientists in setting air pollution standards," Francesca Grifo, of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Reuters News.


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