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New Rules for Ozone?

Posted on 9/2/2011 by Scott C. Dunsmore

The Obama administration placed themselves in a very interesting policy position on September 2, 2011 in announcing the withdrawal of the EPA’s proposed revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. Citing the current economic conditions, the president’s decision was made based on his desire to establish strong environmental protection regulations without unnecessary burden or uncertainty. This action almost falls in direct contradiction to many of the other clean air regulations that have come from his administration over the past three years (e.g., recently adopted interstate air rule, higher fuel economy standards, and greenhouse gas requirements), many of which will create high costs for implementation.
 
The president seems to be walking a very narrow ledge between those who are pushing for reduced Federal government regulation and others who are looking for the EPA to do more in addressing air pollution control and prevention.
 
The struggle even appears to be occurring within his own administration. Shortly after the Whitehouse announcement, the EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, issued a tersely worded statement,
Since day one, under President Obama’s leadership, EPA has worked to ensure health protections for the American people, and has made tremendous progress to ensure that Clean Air Act standards protect all Americans by reducing our exposures to harmful air pollution like mercury, arsenic and carbon dioxide. This Administration has put in place some of the most important standards and safeguards for clean air in U.S. history: the most significant reduction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide air pollution across state borders; a long-overdue proposal to finally cut mercury pollution from power plants; and the first-ever carbon pollution standards for cars and trucks. We will revisit the ozone standard, in compliance with the Clean Air Act.
It is unclear as to whether the EPA will wait to address ozone standards until the 2013 cycle, or try another attempt at revising the 2008 standard sooner. The door seems to be open, for the moment, for a more immediate second offensive from the EPA.
 
Where does a decision such as this leave the Obama administration in the waning days of his first term? What other environmental, health, and safety policy decisions may be affected? Will these shifts help or weaken his administration and his chances of retaining the office in 2012?
 
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Tags: Act, Air, Clean, EPA, new rules

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