September 4, 2011
Obama Asks EPA To Withdraw Clean Air Regulations
In what the Associated Press is calling a "dramatic reversal," President Obama requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shelve new air-quality regulations, citing concerns that they could stifle job growth in the energy industry.
"The surprise move--coming on the same day as a dismal unemployment report--reflected the energy industry's importance as a rare bright spot in adding U.S. jobs. The tighter standards for smog-forming ozone could have forced states and cities to limit some oil-and-gas projects," Deborah Solomon and Tennille Tracy of the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
"In making the move, the White House clearly judged that it had more to lose from industry and Republican criticism than it had to gain from environmental groups who support the rule," they added.
The decision was made not to "endorse" the 2008 ozone standard of 75 parts per billion set by former President George W. Bush in 2008, according to Dave Boyer of The Washington Times. Rather, the President said in a statement, the request was made in order "to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover."
ABC News reporter Amy Bingham noted that the move comes just a few days after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced that his branch of Congress would move to repeal the air quality regulations, claiming they would prevent job growth.
"Obama said the standards are already being revised and would have to be updated again in 2013," Bingham added.
Health experts "lamented" the move, according to Alina Selyukh of Reuters, who added, "Even at current levels, doctors and public health groups warn that ozone, a key smog ingredient, is harmful, especially for those already suffering from lung diseases."
"We don't really know what level of ozone is truly safe," Dr. Monica Kraft, director of the Asthma, Allergy and Airway Center at Duke University and president-elect of the American Thoracic Society, told Selyukh on Friday. "We are concerned that there won't be any change“¦ until 2013, even though the levels we have now already can actually worsen lung disease and cause more symptoms, visits to the emergency departments and deaths."
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